Helping patients make informed choices: a randomized trial of a decision aid for adjuvant chemotherapy in lymph node-negative breast cancer

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Apr 16;95(8):581-7. doi: 10.1093/jnci/95.8.581.


Background: In recent years, patients have indicated a desire for more information about their disease and to be involved in making decisions about their care. We developed an aid called the "Decision Board" to help clinicians inform patients with lymph node-negative breast cancer of the risks and benefits of adjuvant chemotherapy. We determined whether adding the Decision Board to the medical consultation improved patient knowledge and satisfaction compared with the medical consultation alone.

Methods: Between October 1995 and March 2000, 176 women with lymph node-negative breast cancer who were candidates for adjuvant chemotherapy were randomly assigned to receive the Decision Board plus the medical consultation (83 patients) or the medical consultation alone (93 patients). One week after the consultation, patients completed a questionnaire assessing their knowledge about breast cancer and chemotherapy. Satisfaction with decision making was assessed 1 week and 3, 6, and 12 months after randomization, and differences between groups were analyzed by a repeated measures analysis of variance. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Patients in the Decision Board arm were better informed about breast cancer and adjuvant chemotherapy than patients in the control arm (mean knowledge score = 80.2 [on a scale of 0-100], 95% confidence interval [CI] = 77.1 to 83.3, and 71.7, 95% CI = 69.0 to 74.4, respectively; P<.001). Over the entire study period, satisfaction with decision making was higher for patients in the Decision Board arm than for patients in the control arm (P =.032). There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in the number of patients who chose adjuvant chemotherapy (77% and 70% for patients in the Decision Board arm and those in the control arm, respectively; P =.303).

Conclusion: When making decisions regarding adjuvant chemotherapy, patients with early breast cancer who had been exposed to the Decision Board had better knowledge of the disease and treatment options and greater satisfaction with their decision making than those who received the standard consultation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Decision Making
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Mastectomy / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Patient Participation*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents