THE MEDICAL DECISION-MAKING PROCESS AND THE FAMILY: THE CASE OF BREAST CANCER PATIENTS AND THEIR HUSBANDS
Article first published online: 11 APR 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Volume 23, Issue 3, pages 183–192, March 2009
How to Cite
GILBAR, R. and GILBAR, O. (2009), THE MEDICAL DECISION-MAKING PROCESS AND THE FAMILY: THE CASE OF BREAST CANCER PATIENTS AND THEIR HUSBANDS. Bioethics, 23: 183–192. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00650.x
- Issue published online: 21 JAN 2009
- Article first published online: 11 APR 2008
- breast cancer patients;
- decision making;
- doctor-patient/husband relationships;
- patient autonomy;
Objectives: The objectives of the study were (1) to assess similarities and differences between breast cancer patients and their husbands in terms of doctor-patient/spouse relationships and shared decision making; and (2) to investigate the association between breast cancer patients and husbands in terms of preference of type of doctor, doctor-patient relationship, and shared decision making regarding medical treatment.
Method: Fifty-seven women with breast cancer, and their husbands, completed questionnaires measuring doctor-patient/spouse relationships (paternalism, autonomy), and decision making regarding medical treatment.
Results: Patients believe they have a key role in the medical decision-making process (93%) and that the participation of their husbands, and their agreement with the decision, is important (84% and 89%, respectively). Both breast cancer patients and their husbands prefer a shared decision-making process to paternalistic or autonomy-based approaches.
Conclusion: In contrast to legal and bioethical approaches, which focus on the patient as the primary decision maker, this study reflects a practical recognition of the role of the breast cancer patient's husband in the decision-making process. It also reflects a relational rather than an individualistic perception of patient autonomy.