Cancer patients and their support persons often feel overwhelmed when being confronted with their diagnosis and treatment options. Such information is commonly provided during one consultation with their clinician. We compared cancer patients’ and their support persons’ preferences for: i) attending one 40-minute consultation or two 20-minute consultations when making a treatment decision; and ii) receiving additional information in written form only or in both written and online forms.
An Australian cross-sectional survey, using a discrete choice experiment (DCE), of 159 adult medical oncology patients, and 64 of their support persons. Participants were presented with four hypothetical scenarios and asked to indicate their most and least preferred option. They were told that both treatments would have the same impact on participants’ life expectancy, and that there would be no difference between the scenarios in terms of when treatment would start.
147 patients and 59 support persons completed the DCE. The proportions of patients and support persons choosing each scenario did not differ statistically significantly from each other (p > 0.05). Of the four scenarios, most patients and support persons preferred to receive two consultations along with written and online information (n = 65, 44% and n = 30, 51% respectively). Significantly more participants preferred to receive two shorter consultations rather than one longer consultation when this was combined with written and online information (p < 0.05).
When making a cancer treatment decision, both patients and support persons seem to prefer to receive two shorter consultations combined with written and online information. Clinicians should consider offering this consultation style.
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This study was funded by a Strategic Research Partnership Grant [CSR 11-02] from the Cancer Council New South Wales to the Newcastle Cancer Control Collaborative (New-3C), and by a Partnership Project [APP1059760] from the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The authors also received funding support from the Hunter Cancer Research Alliance Implementation Science Flagship Program, the Hunter New England Local Health District, and the Australian Research Council. Infrastructure funding was provided by the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.