Stability of decisional role preference over the course of cancer therapy.

  • Mallinger JB
  • Shields CG
  • Jennifer Griggs
  • Roscoe J
  • Morrow GR
  • Rosenbluth RJ
  • Lord RS
  • Gross H

Cancer patients vary in their preferred level of involvement in medical decision making, and responding to patients' desired level of involvement is a key element of good medical care. While the literature has clearly demonstrated heterogeneity among cancer patients' preferences, less is known about how the preferences of any given patient may change over time. This longitudinal study compared cancer patients' preferences for involvement in medical decision making from the time of diagnosis to the time of completion of therapy. Data from 729 cancer patients with mixed diagnoses were analyzed. Most patients reported a change in preferred level of involvement over time, and multivariate analysis demonstrated that patients tend to prefer a decreasing level of involvement over time (p<0.0001). Stability of patients' preferences was also associated with type of cancer, but not with other sociodemographic characteristics. The results from this study highlight the importance of reevaluating patients' preferences for involvement in medical decision making throughout the course of cancer therapy, as such preferences are likely to change. (c) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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