A study looking at how doctors and patients communicate and share decision making (QuEST -T1)

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer
Breast cancer
Cervical cancer
Ovarian cancer
Vaginal cancer
Vulval cancer
Womb (uterine or endometrial) cancer




This study looked at how doctors and patients communicate and how they share the decision making about a patient’s care.
This study is part of a larger programme that Cancer Research UK ran to:
  • include quality of life questionnaires Open a glossary item into clinical care
  • help doctors develop a training programme to interpret and respond to issues raised in the quality of life questionnaires
Cancer Research UK supported this study.

More about this trial

We know from research that doctors respond better to patient’s needs when they know how illness affects the patient’s quality of life Open a glossary item
When doctors had information from a quality of life questionnaire that patients had filled in, there was better communication between the doctor and the patient. And this helped the patient’s health. 
The aims of this study were to:
  • understand how doctors and patients communicate
  • understand how decisions about the patient’s health needs are made
  • develop a training programme for doctors, to help them better understand information from completed quality of life questionnaires and so better respond to patients concerns

Summary of results

The study team found that most people in this study were very satisfied with the consultations they had with their cancer doctor (oncologist).
These results include some early findings from the study. The researchers are still analysing some of the information and hope to publish this soon.
The study team recruited people between 2009 and 2010. 123 people took part in this study. They were all attending the outpatient’s clinics at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds.
Of those:
The study team recorded consultations they had with their doctor. They recorded 4 consultations for each person. Everyone completed 3 questionnaires after the 1st and 4th visit. The researchers used quality of life questionnaires developed in the QuEST-Q1 study
These questionnaires asked about:
  • what they talked about with their doctor 
  • how satisfied they were with the consultation 
  • their well being
These early results showed that people were very satisfied with the consultation they had with their doctor. But the recordings showed that there were some issues that doctors didn’t explore further when patients raised them.
There were audio recordings for over 400 consultations. The researchers analysed the recordings to find out if there were any issues in communication. 
They found:
  • the most common symptom that patients talked about was tiredness (fatigue) and this wasn’t explored further by the doctor in just under 2 out of 10 consultations (17%) 
  • the most common feeling patients talked about was depression and this wasn’t explored further by the doctor in just over 3 out of 10 (32%) of cases
  • discussions about continuing chemotherapy were common but patients weren’t always given the chance to ask questions or engage in conversation
The researchers concluded that the recordings were a useful way to find out more about the quality of communication between cancer doctors and patients. Doctors talked in detail about some issues that patients raised about treatment. But some more challenging symptoms and feelings weren’t talked about.
The researchers hoped that training doctors could improve their confidence to explore difficult problems such as distress and fatigue. The QuEST-T2 study looked at this and we have a summary of the results.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) but may not have been published in a medical journal.  The figures we quote above were provided by the research team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Galina Velikova

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University of Leeds

Other information

The results of the QuEST studies have helped researchers to develop an eRAPID programme. This looked at a new online system to improve the monitoring and management of symptoms and side effects related to cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery).
You can find out about these studies here:

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/07/073.

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials in the UK last year.

Last reviewed:

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