The Experience of Using Decisional Support Aids by Patients With Breast Cancer

Margaret D. Lacey

ONF 2002, 29(10), 1491-1497. DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.1491-1497

Purpose/Objectives: To explore the lived experience of patients with breast cancer using decisional support aids during the prediagnosis, diagnosis, and treatment phases of their disease.

Research Approach: Descriptive, phenomenologic.

Setting: Community-based.

Participants: 12 women, ages 38-68, diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer.

Methodologic Approach: Audiotaped interviews were transcribed and analyzed according to Colaizzi's method.

Main Research Variables: Use of decisional support aids.

Findings: Six major themes were identified: being too stressed and overwhelmed to make a decision, feeling an internal sense of urgency to have the breast cancer managed quickly, trusting the opinion and advice of physicians about treatment decisions, appreciating the importance of support from family and friends in decision making, finding nurses were unavailable or uninvolved in decision making initially, and missing out on the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach.

Conclusions: Being presented with the diagnosis of breast cancer evokes a range of feelings and emotions. By identifying, explaining, and expressing their accounts, participants revealed their lived experience and its meaning. The description of this phenomena may assist other women diagnosed with breast cancer in the decision-making process.

Interpretation: Oncology nurses need to be aware of and understand the issues surrounding the decision-making process of patients with breast cancer. Gaps clearly exist in the information and support provided to these participants. Nurses must target areas that are insufficient in providing decisional support aids and plan for partnerships to ensure a multidisciplinary approach in this process.

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