Information needs and decision-making processes in older cancer patients

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2004 Jul;51(1):69-80. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2004.04.002.


The paper provides an overview of age-differences in patients' preferences for participation in cancer treatment decision-making and factors that relate to these age-differences. On average, older cancer patients prefer to receive less information about their illness and treatment and assume a less active role in making treatment decisions. They are also less likely to collect and analyze all relevant information in order to make an optimal decision. Observed age-differences are, in part, explained by age-associated cognitive decline. Age-differences are, on average, small to moderate, and most older patients prefer to be well-informed. Nonetheless, only a minority of them wishes to play an active role in decision-making. Given their lower preference for active participation in decision-making, older adults may show less positive psychological effects of active participation, but this question warrants research. Implications for working with older cancer patients are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Outpatients
  • Patient Participation*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sick Role*