We review decision making along the cancer continuum in the contemporary context of informed and shared decision making in which patients are encouraged to take a more active role in their health care. We discuss challenges to achieving informed and shared decision making, including cognitive limitations and emotional factors, but argue that understanding the mechanisms of decision making offers hope for improving decision support. Theoretical approaches to decision making that explain cognition, emotion, and their interaction are described, including classical psychophysical approaches, dual-process approaches that focus on conflicts between emotion versus cognition (or reason), and modern integrative approaches such as fuzzy-trace theory. In contrast to the earlier emphasis on rote use of numerical detail, modern approaches emphasize understanding the bottom-line gist of options (which encompasses emotion and other influences on meaning) and retrieving relevant social and moral values to apply to those gist representations. Finally, research on interventions to support better decision making in clinical settings is reviewed, drawing out implications for future research on decision making and cancer.
PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved.