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Exploration of How Women Make Treatment Decisions After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Cheryl A. Spittler
Leonie Pallikathayil
Marjorie Bott
ONF 2012, 39(5), E425-E433 DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.E425-E433

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the information needs of women after receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer, investigate how decisions about treatment options are made, and assess personal responses to the decisions made.

Design: Mixed-methods approach using quantitative and qualitative data.

Setting: The University of Kansas Medical Center and Quinn Plastic Surgery Center, both in the midwestern United States.

Sample: 102 breast cancer survivors who had completed all forms of treatment for at least three months and less than five years.

Methods: Phase I participants completed five questionnaires about informational needs, confidence and satisfaction with the decision, decisional regret, and conflict. In phase II, 15 participants were purposively sampled from the 102 survivors to participate in a focus group session. Data analysis included frequencies and multiple regression for phase I and qualitative content analysis for phase II.

Main Research Variables: Informational needs, confidence and satisfaction with the decision, and decisional regret and conflict.

Findings: The variables (widowed, confidence and satisfaction with decision, and decisional conflict and regret) significantly (p = 0.01) accounted for 14% of the variance in informational needs. Two themes emerged from the study: (a) feelings, thoughts, and essential factors that impact treatment considerations, and (b) tips for enhancing treatment consideration options.

Conclusions: The study's results show that women viewed informational needs as very important in making treatment decisions after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Implications for Nursing: The treatment team should provide the information, with consideration of the patient's personal preferences, that will assist women to make informed, confident, and satisfied decisions about treatment choices.

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