Aims. This paper reports on a study carried out to establish a decision tree model to describe how women in Taiwan make the decision whether or not to have a hysterectomy. In addition, we examined the predictability of the decision-tree model.
Background. Hysterectomy is the second most common surgical procedure performed worldwide. Medical professionals believe that the operation can relieve pain and prevent cervical cancer, thus improving a woman's quality of life. While most physicians advise hysterectomy even for benign uterine conditions, feminists decry the belief that the uterus has no purpose, believing that it is an important symbol of womanhood.
Methods. The study was conducted in two phases. Phase I, the model development phase, was carried out to generalize data from a qualitative study of 14 women and to establish a tree model outlining their decision to proceed with hysterectomy. The second phase was the model prediction phase that applied inductive and deductive methods to data analysis and development of the decision-tree model. The model tree was then tested with 18 women who were deciding whether or not to undergo hysterectomy. Using the decision-making tree, we studied the women's thought processes and analysed their primary concerns. The study was carried out in 1999–2001.
Results. The study determined 13 criteria that Taiwanese women use when deciding about having a hysterectomy. Developed in accordance with Gladwin's methodology, the model tree successfully predicted 90% of decisions whether or not to have a hysterectomy.
Conclusions. Nurses working in gynaecological services should understand how women decide to undergo hysterectomy so that the proper counselling and follow-up can be provided. With further testing, our decision tree may help in this process.