Strategies for involving family members in treatment decision making for older patients with cancer

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

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic

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Background and purpose:
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 (SDM), literature about SDM pays little attention to family relations and strategies to facilitate family involvement in decision making processes. Therefor this study aimed to 1. explore surgeons' and nurses' perceptions about involvement of adult children in treatment decision-making for older patients; and 2. identify strategies surgeons' and nurses use to ensure positive family involvement.
This study used a qualitative open in-depth interview design. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 surgical oncologists and 13 oncology nurses in two hospitals in the Netherlands. Qualitative content analysis was conducted according to the steps of thematic analysis.
Surgeons and nurses indicated that adult children's involvement in decision-making increases when patients become frail. They reported beneficial and challenging characteristics of this involvement. Subsequently, six strategies to stimulate positive involvement of adult children in the decision-making process were revealed: 1. Focus on the patient; 2. Actively involve adult children; 3. Acknowledge different perspectives; 4. Get to know the family system; 5. Check that the patient and family members understand the information; and 6. Stimulate communication and deliberation with adult children.
Conclusions and implications:
Surgeons and nurses perceive involvement of adult children in treatment decision making for older patients with cancer as beneficial. Adult children can help these patients reach well-informed treatment decisions. Therefor surgeons and nurses stimulate the communication and deliberation between these patients and their adult children. However, involving family in treatment decision making also triggers specific complexities and challenges in treatment decision conversations that seem to call for the development and implementation of practical patient and family-centered strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2023
Event16th International Family Nursing Conference (IFNC16): Global innovations in family nursing. Advancing family health. - Dublin City University, Glasnevin Campus, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 20 Jun 202323 Jun 2023


Conference16th International Family Nursing Conference (IFNC16)


  • strategies
  • family
  • decision making
  • cancer


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