Patient decision aids for prevention and treatment of cancer diseases: are they really personalised tools?

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Abstract

This article provides an analysis of cancer decision aids (DAs), instruments developed to support oncologic patients facing tough screening or treatment decisions, with a particular attention to their level of personalisation. As discussed in our previous works, we argue that the personalisation of medicine should regard not only the genetic and clinical aspects of diseases but also the different cognitive, psychological and social factors involved in clinical choices. According to this vision, we analysed the existing randomised controlled studies on cancer DAs concluding that only few of them take into account individual variables such as cultural level, individual risk attitudes, personal beliefs, and emotional state that are crucial to determine people's reactions and health-related choices. For these reasons, although quality standards have been published for these interventions, we suggest the need for further research in order to make these instruments more efficient in transforming and improving the actual clinical practice, improving patient empowerment and participation in health-related decisions.

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