Background Patients vary widely in their preferences and capacity for participating in treatment decision-making. There are few interventions targeting patient understanding of how doctors make decisions and shared decision-making. This randomized trial investigates the effects of providing cancer patients with a package designed to facilitate shared decision-making prior to seeing their oncologist.
Patients and methods Sixty-five female cancer patients were randomized to receive either the package (booklet and 15-min video) or a booklet on living with cancer, before their initial consultation. Participants completed questionnaires prior to the intervention, immediately after the oncology consultation, and 2 weeks and 6 months later. The first consultation with the oncologist was audio-taped and transcribed.
Results Patients receiving the package were more likely than controls to declare their information and treatment preferences in the consultation, and their perspectives on the costs, side-effects and benefits of treatment. Doctors introduced considerably more new themes in the consultations with intervention subjects than they did with controls; no other differences in doctor behaviour were noted.
Conclusions This short intervention successfully shifted patient and doctor behaviour closer to the shared decision-making model, although it did not alter patients’ preferences for information or involvement.