A Qualitative Study of Pathologists' Attitudes Toward Patient-Pathologist Interactions

Cathryn J. Lapedis, MD, MPH; Lauren Kroll-Wheeler, MD; Melissa DeJonckheere, PhD; Dustin Johnston; Scott R. Owens, MD


Am J Clin Pathol. 2021;156(6):969-979. 

In This Article


Pathologists identified several ways by which including patient-pathologist interactions in the field of pathology could impact patients, pathologists, and the field of pathology. Most of those surveyed were interested in meeting with patients to discuss their report and show them their tissue under the microscope. Pathologists highlighted potential positive impacts to patients in the form of improved cognitive and emotional processing of their diagnosis and also noted the potential for improved pathologist job satisfaction through increased patient contract. Others noted that including patient-pathologist interaction in the scope of a pathologist's work could improve the image of the field of pathology and the quality of patient care. For each of these areas, there were also concerns about negative impact—notably, confusing patients, overwhelming pathologists logistically and emotionally, and muddying the waters of patient-clinician team interactions by adding the pathologist to the team. Future work should investigate clinicians' attitudes toward patient-pathologist interactions because clinicians are also key stakeholders whose ideas and attitudes must be investigated and described.