Date Published: 7 August 2013

UK Cancer patients want more influence over decisions about their treatment

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

UK cancer patients aged under 55 years would like more influence over decisions made about their treatment, according to new research published in the British Journal of Cancer. The same research study that drew this conclusion also indicates that ethnic minorities and patients with rectal, ovarian, multiple myeloma and bladder cancers are statistically more likely to feel that they don't have sufficient influence over how their condition is treated.

Researchers based at Cambridge University considered more than 40,000 responses to the 2010 English National Cancer Patient Experience Survey. More than 70% of the patients who responded indicated that they felt suitably involved in decisions about their treatment. However, younger patients in particular responded to the survey saying that decisions are made without enough of their personal input.

Dr Anas El Turabi, based at Cambridge University, said:

" Although the overall results are very positive and most patients do feel suitably involved in their treatment decisions, there are distinct groups where this isn't the case and we need to address this. There appears to be a generation gap, possibly because younger patients expect to have more of a say in their treatment than older patients.
_ This study should help us to focus on those groups of patients who feel the least involved. This means doctors, nurses and the patients themselves need to work together and build strong relationships that allow them to discuss treatment options in every case. Some patient groups may also need extra support to make sure they're properly involved in making these decisions, such as having a longer consultation with doctors or specialist nurses

Dr Georgios Lyratzopoulos, also based at Cambridge University, said:

" This evidence highlights the importance of studying the experience of cancer patients using large national patient surveys. We won't know if we are getting better at meeting patients expectations unless we continue to invest in national surveys of patient experience."

Martin Ledwick, head information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said:

" All patients should feel entitled to discuss the options available with their doctors and nurses and be given the chance to do so. It's important that they're made to feel more like the co-pilots, rather than the passengers, on their own cancer journeys.
_ Doctors want the best possible outcome for you when they're considering the most appropriate treatment but that doesn't mean the treatment will always suit every patient. Being able to talk freely about different options will help patients feel more involved
. "

The extent of dissatisfaction of those patients who did not feel sufficiently involved, informed or in control of their treatment is not made clear. It is also unclear how much effort those individuals went to in order to try to obtain further information or to affect decisions made at the time. Although such efforts might seem to be the responsibility of the individual patient, it is important to bear in mind that it can be much more difficult to assert oneself when in pain, distress and/or generally in a large unfamiliar institution such as a modern hospital.

Ref. to Paper:
El Turabi, A., Lyratzopoulos, G. (2013). Variation in reported experience of involvement in cancer treatment decision making: evidence from the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey British Journal of Cancer DOI: 10.1038/bjc.2013.316

Source: Cancer Research UK

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