Cancer Screening Discussions Lack Shared Decision-Making

Physicians more likely to discuss pros versus cons of screening with patients

FRIDAY, June 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of patients report that shared decision-making (SDM) is lacking when it comes to cancer screening decisions, according to a study published online June 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Richard M. Hoffman, M.D., from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and colleagues conducted an Internet-based survey of 1,134 adults (657 women), aged ≥50, who made cancer-screening decisions (breast [BrCa], colorectal [CRC], prostate [PCa]) within the previous two years. Responses included participants' perceived cancer risk; how informed they felt about cancer tests; whether their health care provider addressed pros/cons of testing, presented the option of no testing, and elicited their input; whether they were tested; and their confidence in the screening decision.

The researchers found that the majority of decisions (1,098 of 1,134) were discussed with a health care provider (354 BrCa, 598 CRC, 146 PCa). Pros of screening were addressed more than cons (51 to 67 percent versus 7 to 14 percent, respectively). Most of the time (63 to 71 percent), providers explained that testing was optional, but only 27 to 38 percent of participants reported SDM. The majority underwent screening (69 to 93 percent) and most (55 to 76 percent) would definitely make the same decision again.

"Supporting SDM could potentially improve the quality of cancer screening decisions," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the decision support industry.

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