An exploratory study of patient distress and participation in treatment decision-making for cancer
Scrutton, Frances Mary
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Background: There is a growing expectation that medical patients should be more involved in decisions about their health and treatment. However, often decisions about treatments are required at times of stress, such as foll owing a diagnosis of cancer.Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between distress, emotion regulation and patient participation in treatment decision-ma king for cancer, and whether patient participation affects psychosocial outcomesMethod: The study was an observational, longitudinal design. Participants were 26 patients with cancer, recruited at their initial oncology appointment, who completed a questionnaire at the time of the ir consultation, a second questionnaire following their consultation and a third at three months follow up. Univariate analyses were used for confirmatory data analysis.Results: Participants who took a passive or active role in treatment decision-making had significantly higher levels of distress, compared to those who reported shared decision-making. Higher levels of distress and greater difficulties with emotion regulation were also significantly associated with participants not attaining their preferred role. No significant relationship was found between participation in treatment decision-making and psycho logical adjustment or satisfaction with the decision made.Conclusions: Greater awareness of patients' emotional well-being, at key points in their care pathway, would be valuable, to ensure patients' psychological needs a re met and to avoid detrimental consequences for their health care.