Intended for healthcare professionals


Participation of patients in decisions about treatment for cancer

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 17 November 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1144

Desire for information is not the same as a desire to participate in decision making

  1. Lesley Fallowfield, professor of psycho-oncology (
  1. CRC Psychosocial Oncology Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex BN1 9QG

    See also Papers p 1160

    The primary aim of treatment for cancer is to improve the quality of life of patients by curing them or producing a long and worthwhile remission and ameliorating their worst symptoms. For many types of cancers, however, the most appropriate management is not always clear or based on the best evidence from well conducted randomised controlled trials.

    Clinicians may have more than one therapeutic option to offer patients and there are many calls for more involvement of patients in decision making about their treatment. Two fundamental issues should be determined when discussing treatment choices with patients—their own preferences about the amount and type of information that is needed and their actual rather than perceived desire for participation in decision making. A clear distinction needs to be made between a …

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