Patient participation in decision making: Views of health professionals caring for people with colorectal cancer

Kinta Beaver, Olive Craven, Gary Witham, Mary Tomlinson, Shabbir Susnerwala, David Jones, Karen A. Luker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Aim. The aim of this study was to explore views on patient participation in decision making, as described by health professionals caring for people with colorectal cancer. Background. Patient participation in health-care decision making is on the policy agenda at an international level. However, many aspects of cancer care and treatment are complex and it is unclear how health professionals view their role as promoters of patient participation. Design. A qualitative exploratory study. Methods. In depth interviews with 35 health professionals in clinical practice. Data were analysed using thematic content analysis, assisted by a computer software package for analysis of qualitative data (N-VIVO). Results. Choices in relation to surgical treatment were viewed as limited. Although it was perceived that patients could be more involved in decisions related to adjuvant treatment, providing information on various chemotherapy regimes was challenging. It was acknowledged that patients could be involved in treatment choices but there was far less clarity concerning aspects of physical and psychological care. Age was a factor when determining which patients should be offered treatment choices. Conclusion. The availability and presentation of choices to patients is context specific and tailored to the preferences of individuals. If health professionals focus only on aspects of decision making related to treatment, the potential for shared partnerships with patients in relation to choices about physical and psychological care may be lost. This may be particularly pertinent for nurses and allied professions who engage with patients throughout the illness trajectory. Relevance to clinical practice. Policy makers should arguably appreciate that health professionals have an awareness of current thinking on patient participation, but may find policy recommendations challenging to implement in clinical practice when faced with the individual needs and preferences of patients and the complexities and uncertainties of disease management. © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)725-733
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


    • Cancer
    • Clinical practice
    • Decision making
    • Nursing
    • Patient participation
    • Qualitative approaches


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