The following is the summary of “A Rectal Cancer Surgical Decision Aid Is Not Enough: A Qualitative Study” published in December 2022 issue of Diseases of the Colon & Rectum by Goldwag, et al.

Patients with rectal cancer confront difficult surgical treatment decisions, but there are few resources accessible to help them make those choices. Researchers aimed to better inform the development of surgical decision aids by learning about the content and format preferences of patients with rectal cancer and colorectal surgeons. Inductive thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews, a qualitative study design  face-to-face meetings, and phone conversations. Investigators selected 15 people who had survived rectal cancer based on their demographics and the sort of surgery they had. In addition, 5 carers were included in the study. Around 10 surgeons were chosen on purpose, with consideration given to specialty and level of expertise.

Intervening methods included semi-structured interviews. Saturation of both major and minor issues among survivors and surgeons. The median interview length for patients was 61 minutes (range: 41-93), and the median interview length for surgeons was 35 minutes (range: 25-59). There were 9 people younger than 65 still alive. 7 of them were women. An average of 10 years (SD 7.4) had been spent working as a surgeon, with 7 of those years spent in academia and 3 in private practice. Those who had participated, both survivors and doctors, expressed a desire for more than just surgical decision help, but rather a holistic instructional tool. Rectal cancer survivors expressed a need for additional knowledge about the disease, treatment options, timetables, and support services.

Surgeons assumed that patients wanted to know more about their surgical options and gastrointestinal health. Both patients and surgeons expressed a desire for a resource that could be tailored to their individual needs and met their preferences for ease of use, complexity, length, interactivity, and visual appeal. The potential for a participant selection bias reduces the results’ generalizability. Rather than a surgical decision aid focusing on a specific surgical choice only, survivors, carers, and colorectal surgeons needed an educational support tool that would meet major educational demands throughout the disease continuum.