TEAMS: Training Oncologists and Empowering Patients in Affective Communication during Medical Consultations in Singapore – A pilot Study

Principal Investigator:

Chetna Malhotra, Assistant Professor, Lien Centre for Palliative Care, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore

Study Team:

Ravindran Kanesvaran, Simon Ong, Alethea Yee Chung Pheng, Tanujaa D/O Rajasekaran


Patients diagnosed with advanced cancer and their caregivers experience tremendous psychological distress, often including anxiety, depression, fear, and anger. This psychological distress is correlated with poor quality of life, a desire to hasten death, increased health care utilization and poorer survival. Distress is often considered the sixth vital sign in cancer care. Oncologists who address psychological distress as part of routine cancer care and respond with empathy, reduce anxiety for the patients and caregivers and increase trust in oncologists.


The objective of this study is to develop a two-component intervention targeting patients and their oncologists to reduce communications gap during consultations. This study aims to assess the feasibility of the intervention program for oncologists to enhance their skills when communicating with their patients.


This is a pilot randomized controlled trial of 10 oncologists who are randomized to receive (intervention arm) or not receive (control arm). At least 4 consultations for each oncologist involving patients with Stage IV cancer are audio-recorded and patients are surveyed before and after their consultation.

Study sites:

National Cancer Centre Singapore


The results of this study will be useful to assess the feasibility of the communication intervention.

Project Start Date:

1 March 2018

Contact Person: