Deciding about (neo-)adjuvant rectal and breast cancer treatment: Missed opportunities for shared decision making

Marleen Kunneman, Ellen G. Engelhardt, F. L. Laura ten Hove, Corrie A. M. Marijnen, Johanneke E. A. Portielje, Ellen M. A. Smets, Hanneke J. C. J. M. Hanneke de Haes, Anne M. Stiggelbout, Arwen H. Pieterse

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The first step in shared decision making (SDM) is creating choice awareness. This is particularly relevant in consultations concerning preference-sensitive treatment decisions, e.g. those addressing (neo-)adjuvant therapy. Awareness can be achieved by explicitly stating, as the 'reason for encounter', that a treatment decision needs to be made. It is unknown whether oncologists express such reason for encounter. This study aims to establish: 1) if 'making a treatment decision' is stated as a reason for the encounter and if not, what other reason for encounter is provided; and 2) whether mentioning that a treatment decision needs to be made is associated with enhanced patient involvement in decision making. Consecutive first consultations with: 1) radiation oncologists and rectal cancer patients; or 2) medical oncologists and breast cancer patients, facing a preference-sensitive treatment decision, were audiotaped. The tapes were transcribed and coded using an instrument developed for the study. Oncologists' involvement of patients in decision making was coded using the OPTION-scale. Oncologists (N = 33) gave a reason for encounter in 70/100 consultations, usually (N = 52/70, 74%) at the start of the consultation. The reason for encounter stated was 'making a treatment decision' in 3/100 consultations, and 'explaining treatment details' in 44/100 consultations. The option of foregoing adjuvant treatment was not explicitly presented in any consultation. Oncologist' involvement of patients in decision making was below baseline (Md OPTION-score = 10). Given the small number of consultations in which the need to make a treatment decision was stated, we could not investigate the impact thereof on patient involvement. This study suggests that oncologists rarely express that a treatment decision needs to be made in consultations concerning preference-sensitive treatment decisions. Therefore, patients might not realize that foregoing (neo-)adjuvant treatment is a viable choice. Oncologists miss a crucial opportunity to facilitate SDM
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-139
JournalActa oncologica (Stockholm, Sweden)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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