Shared Decision-Making in Cancer Has Several Variables

A study published in the journal Cancer provides insights that may help physicians understand patients' preferences regarding their care, which may be crucial for optimizing patient participation in treatment decisions.

Family members often play an important role in providing care for patients with cancer, but which patients are more or less likely to involve family members in decisions regarding their care is not well known. A new study published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, provides some insights and may help physicians understand patients' preferences regarding their care.

For the study, Gabriella Hobbs, MD, and Nancy Keating, MD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School, and their colleagues surveyed 5284 patients with a new diagnosis of lung or colon cancer, and asked participants how they involved their families in decisions about their care. Only 1.5% of patients reported family-controlled decisions. Among the remaining patients, 49.4% reported equally sharing decisions with family, 22.1% reported some family input, and 28.5% reported little or no input from their families. Non-English speaking Asian patients and Spanish-speaking Hispanic patients were more likely to report equally shared decisions with their families than other patients. Also, patients who were married, female, older, and insured more often equally shared decision-making with their families than their counterparts. Patients who were veterans were the least likely to share decision-making with their families.

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