Factors affecting treatment decision making for women with breast cancer
Irwin, Ellen M.
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This study examined the factors affecting treatment decision making for young women with early stage breast cancer. Thirty women, aged 35 to 52 years, were presented information about two equally effective chemotherapy treatments following surgery for breast cancer using an educational instrument called a "decision board." Although equally effective, the treatments differ with regards to side effects and treatment schedule. The purpose of this research was to investigate what factors affect the decision-making process. Following administration of the decision board, women were given a take-home version to review and asked to return one to two weeks later with a decision, at which time they completed a questionnaire. theoretical framework for this study was constructed from the literature on self-directed learning and critical thinking. The Overall, the factors rated most important to the treatment decision were related to quality of life, side effects, and length of treatment. Five factors were found to be rated significantly different by the women who chose one treatment versus the other in terms of importance to their decision. These were side effects in general, vomiting, hair loss, family role, and the number of trips to the cancer centre required for treatment.Implications and recommendations for patient education, research, and practice evolved from the findings of this study.