Capturing Treatment Decision Making among Patients with Solid Tumors and Their Support Persons

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the feasibility and acceptability of using a decision aid with an interactive decision-making process in patients with solid tumors and their caregivers during cancer-related treatment.

Research Approach: A phenomenologic approach was used to analyze qualitative data, with a focus on the meaning of participants’ lived experiences. Interviews were conducted by telephone or in person.

Setting: Outpatient clinics at two regional cancer centers.

Participants: 160 total individuals; 80 patients with newly diagnosed breast (n = 22), advanced-stage prostate (n = 19), or advanced-stage lung (n = 39) cancer, and their caregivers (n = 80).

Methodologic Approach: Twenty-seven of the 80 pairs engaged in audio recorded interviews that were conducted using a semistructured interview guide. Continuous text immersion revealed themes. Validity of qualitative analysis was achieved by member checking.

Findings: Significant findings included three themes: (a) the decision aid helped patients and caregivers understand treatment decisions better, (b) the decision aid helped patients and caregivers to be more involved in treatment decisions, and (c) frequent contact with the study nurse was valuable.

Conclusions: Decision making was more complex than participants expected. The decision aid helped patients and caregivers make satisfying treatment decisions and become integral in a shared treatment decision-making process.