Inventory of oncologists' unmet needs for tools to support decision-making about palliative treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer

Ellen G. Engelhardt, D. ra Révész, Hans J. Tamminga, Cornelis J. A. Punt, Miriam Koopman, Bregje D. Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Ewout W. Steyerberg, Henrica C. W. de Vet, Veerle M. H. Coupé

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Background: Decision-making about palliative care for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) consists of many different treatment-related decisions, and there generally is no best treatment option. Decision support systems (DSS), e.g., prognostic calculators, can aid oncologists' decision-making. DSS that contain features tailored to the needs of oncologists are more likely to be implemented in clinical practice. Therefore, our aim is to inventory colorectal cancer specialists' unmet decision support needs. Methods: We asked oncologists from the Dutch colorectal cancer group (DCCG), to participate in an online inventory questionnaire on their unmet decision support needs. To get more in-depth insight in required features of the DSS they need, we also conducted semi-structured telephone interviews. Results: Forty-one oncologists started the inventory questionnaire, and 27 of them completed all items. Of all respondents, 18 were surgeons (44%), 22 were medical oncologists (54%), and 28 (68%) had more than 10 years of experience treating mCRC. In both the inventory questionnaire and interviews, respondents expressed a need for an overarching DSS incorporating multiple treatment options, and presenting both the treatment benefits and harms. Respondents found it relevant for other outcomes, such as cost-effectiveness of treatment or quality of life, to be incorporated in DSS. There was also a wish for DSS incorporating an up-to-date "personalized" overview of the ongoing trials for which a specific patient is eligible. Conclusions: Experienced oncologists indicate that their treatment advice is currently almost solely based on the available clinical guidelines. They experience a lack of good quality DSS to help them personalize their treatment advice. New tools integrating multiple treatment options and providing a broad range of clinically relevant outcomes are urgently needed to stimulate and safeguard more personalized treatment decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Article number132
JournalBMC medical informatics and decision making
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Decision support tools
  • Metastatic colorectal cancer
  • Questionnaires

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