Paper in Patient Education and Counseling
  • Shepherd, H.L., Butow, P.N., Tattersall, M.H.N. (2011). Factors which motivate cancer doctors to involve their patients in reaching treatment decisions. Patient Education and Counseling, 84 (2) pp. 229-235.

    Objective: Cancer patients increasingly expect to be involved in treatment decision-making. We investigated factors that motivate cancer doctors to involve their patients in treatment decisions.

    Methods: We conducted 22 telephone interviews with doctors treating breast, colorectal, gynaecological, haematological or prostate/urological cancer. Interviews probed doctors for attitudes to shared decision-making (SDM), views of when patient involvement is appropriate and what motivated them to encourage involvement. Interviews were audio-recorded. Themes were identified using framework analysis.

    Results: Cancer doctors described disease, patient, doctor and societal influences on their support for patient involvement in treatment decisions. Treatment recommendations were described as 'clear-cut' or 'grey'. When treatment options were clear-cut, the impact of treatment on patients' quality of life and self-image and the influence of consumer groups motivated doctors' support of patient involvement.

    Conclusion: Australian cancer doctors express differing support of patient involvement in decision-making dependent on context, impact and effect that involvement may have. Doctors described meeting patient involvement preferences as a challenge, and needing to identify different characteristics, anxiety levels and levels of understanding to guide them to involve patients in decisions.

    Practice implications: Models of shared decision-making may warrant refinement to better guide doctors to elicit and discuss information and involvement preferences.