Introduction: Shared decision making (SDM) is now considered a desirable goal in health care, yet little is known about current practice in cancer care, and its impact on patient outcomes. This study aimed to develop an oncology-specific coding system for SDM, explore variations in SDM according to patient and disease characteristics, determine the relationship between SDM and patient satisfaction with the consultation, and explore the impact of SDM on patient anxiety.
Methods: Sixty-three medical and radiation oncology consultations with patients with primary cancer involving consideration of adjuvant therapy after surgery were audio-taped, transcribed and coded. Intra and inter-rater reliability of the coding system was 95 and 90% respectively. Patients completed questionnaires before and after the consultation.
Results: Construct validity of the SDM coding system was successfully conducted. Oncologists demonstrated on average under 11 of 18 SDM behaviours. Behaviours seeking patient preferences were particularly rare. SDM behaviours were more apparent in consultations involving female breast cancer patients. SDM behaviour scores in combination with patient involvement preference could predict achievement of patient involvement preference but not overall patient satisfaction. Although there was no overall relationship between patient anxiety and SDM scores, it did appear that physicians may change SDM behaviour according to patient factors including anxiety.
Conclusion: Our findings reinforce the importance of the doctor in facilitating shared decision making in oncology consultations.