Involvement of adult children in treatment decision-making for older patients with cancer: a qualitative study of perceptions and experiences of oncology surgeons and nurses

Bea L. Dijkman, Wolter Paans, Hanneke van der Wal-Huisman, Barbara L. van Leeuwen, Marie Louise Luttik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Many older patients with cancer have their family members, often their adult children, involved in a process of treatment decision-making. Despite the growing awareness that family members can facilitate a process of shared decision-making, strategies for involving family members are scarce. Furthermore, literature about shared decision-making pays little attention to family involvement or to the impact that family relations have on the decision process. The purpose of this study was to explore how surgeons and nurses perceive the involvement of adult children of older patients with cancer in treatment decision-making. Subsequently, it identified strategies to ensure family involvement in the decision-making process, used in clinical practice.

METHODS: Qualitative open in-depth interviews were conducted with 13 surgeons and 13 nurses working in a university or general hospital. Qualitative content analysis was conducted according to the steps of thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Both nurses and surgeons indicated that adult children's involvement in decision-making about treatment increases when patients become frail. They mentioned several characteristics of adult children's behaviour during the decision-making process. Most of these characteristics are beneficial, but they also can be challenging. The distinct nature of adult children's involvement can help older patients with cancer reach better-informed treatment decisions. Health professionals reported six strategies to support positive family involvement in decision-making about treatment.

CONCLUSION: Adult children may facilitate a process of shared decision-making and help patients reach well-informed treatment decisions. Health professionals' strategies deliberately support positive family involvement.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • besluitvorming over behandeling
  • familie
  • betrokkenheid
  • oncologie

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