THE MEDICAL DECISION-MAKING PROCESS AND THE FAMILY: THE CASE OF BREAST CANCER PATIENTS AND THEIR HUSBANDS
The objectives of the study were (1) to assess similarities and differences between breast cancer patients and their husbands in terms of doctor-patient/spouse relationships and shared decision making; and (2) to investigate the association between breast cancer patients and husbands in terms of preference of type of doctor, doctor-patient relationship, and shared decision making regarding medical treatment. Method:
Fifty-seven women with breast cancer, and their husbands, completed questionnaires measuring doctor-patient/spouse relationships (paternalism, autonomy), and decision making regarding medical treatment. Results:
Patients believe they have a key role in the medical decision-making process (93%) and that the participation of their husbands, and their agreement with the decision, is important (84% and 89%, respectively). Both breast cancer patients and their husbands prefer a shared decision-making process to paternalistic or autonomy-based approaches. Conclusion:
In contrast to legal and bioethical approaches, which focus on the patient as the primary decision maker, this study reflects a practical recognition of the role of the breast cancer patient's husband in the decision-making process. It also reflects a relational rather than an individualistic perception of patient autonomy.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2009-03-01