University of Michigan researchers developed a decision-support tool called iCanDecide that gives patients key facts about breast cancer surgery, such as how often cancer recurs and the possibility of additional surgery. The group then recruited 537 patients with newly diagnosed early-stage breast cancer and randomized them to use the tool or to view similar information on a website. Participants were surveyed again five weeks later; 496 patients completed this follow-up survey.
Lead author Sarah Hawley, PhD, and colleagues found that 61% of patients who used iCanDecide had a strong understanding of possible treatment options, compared with 42% of patients who viewed the material on the website. Patients who used the tool were also more likely to say they felt prepared to make a treatment decision, at 50%, compared with 33% of patients who only viewed the website.
"Knowledge is a key component of decision-making, and yet it's consistently low even among patients who have received treatment," Hawley said in a statement released by the university. "Instead of throwing the information on the website and hoping patients would figure it out, we gave them the bullet point fact, asked a question to see if they understood, and then allowed them to drill down and look at more detailed information."
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