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ASCO 2013: Involving Family in Cancer Treatment Decisions

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The Particulars: Previous studies suggest that shared decision-making—an important part of patient-centered care—appears to be associated with improved health outcomes. Little is known, however, about involvement of family members in cancer treatment-related decisions or if such involvement varies by demographic or clinical characteristics.

Data Breakdown: A survey was conducted in more than 5,000 patients with lung or colorectal cancer. Researchers found that married, female, older, and insured patients were more likely to report involving family members in treatment decisions. Family involvement in these decisions was highest among Chinese-speaking Asians (63.5%) and Spanish-speaking Hispanics (56.8%) than among English-speaking Hispanics (48.5%) and Caucasians (48.3%). Overall, the large majority of patients reported some level of family involvement in making treatment decisions.

Take Home Pearls: Most patients with lung or colorectal cancer appear to involve family members in treatment decisions. Non-English-speaking Hispanics and Asians appear to rely significantly on family involvement. Physicians are recommended to ask about patients’ preference for family involvement.

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