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by Terry McCormick   |   October 11, 2018

Know Thyself

The ancient Greek phrase “know thyself” is a great way to start thinking about what you – or someone you love – values as a cancer patient or survivor. Take a look at the infographic on the right (and larger below) – “What They Value: The Five Types of Cancer Patients.” This is the culmination and summary of a study by The Advisory Board Company, a healthcare research and analytics organization here in D.C.

The study tells us that patients are now taking a more active role in evaluating health care providers, and this infographic aims to help those providers understand their patients’ needs. This communication and information is of the utmost importance in the shared decision-making process that is so valuable to cancer treatment.

Where do you see yourself in their findings? In the emotions of learning your diagnosis, you set out on a path to seek the best treatment options, the best oncologist and urologist, and the right institution(s) for beating cancer. What the research concluded is that patients could be categorized into five types: The Researcher, The Traditionalist, The Cost-Conscious, The Networker, and the The Switcher. Like the Myers-Briggs types, no one behavior or “personality” is better or worse, we are all just different in our internal responses to decision-making.

You might have responded differently than your spouse and family members. Was there ever conflict in this stressful period of your life, when you or someone you loved was diagnosed with cancer? The Five Types can offer us some insight as to why, given how each of us responds to distressing news. The research also indicates that you are additionally influenced by your gender, age, and what part of the country you live in.

The original objective of this research was to inform healthcare practitioners and administrators about the “segmentation” of their cancer patient population. And in order to be successful, they must design cancer programs and address these different needs. Why is that important? The more practitioners can better meet the needs of their patients, the more successful they will be in a myriad of situations, including patient health literacy. This is one of the struggles that prostate cancer patients have when they are first diagnosed. If their doctor understands better how they absorb or deal with difficult news, such as their diagnosis, they can better design a communication plan regarding treatment that the patient can better understand.

You, as patients or family members, might have a different purpose in mind: to recognize ourselves in a unexpected situation and to learn to “know thyself:” our bodies, minds, and emotions. Read more about this story & infographic here.