Background. Medical and interventional therapies for older adults with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) reduce mortality and improve outcomes in selected patients, but there are also risks associated with treatments. Shared decision making (SDM) may be useful in the management of such patients, but to date, patients' and cardiologists' perspectives on SDM in the setting of AMI remain poorly understood. Accordingly, we performed a qualitative study eliciting patients' and cardiologists' perceptions of SDM in this scenario. Methods. We conducted 20 in-depth, semistructured interviews with older patients (age ≥70) post-AMI and 20 interviews with cardiologists. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using ATLAS.ti. Two investigators independently coded transcripts using the constant comparative method, and an integrative, team-based process was used to identify themes. Results. Six major themes emerged: 1) patients felt their only choice was to undergo an invasive procedure; 2) patients placed a high level of trust and gratitude toward physicians; 3) patients wanted to be more informed about the procedures they underwent; 4) for cardiologists, patients' age was not a major contraindication to intervention, while cognitive impairment and functional limitation were; 5) while cardiologists intuitively understood the concept of SDM, interpretations varied; and 6) cardiologists considered SDM to be useful in the setting of non-ST elevated myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) but not ST-elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI). Conclusions. Patients viewed intervention as "the only choice," whereas cardiologists saw a need for balancing risks and benefits in treating older adults post-NSTEMI. This discrepancy implies there is room to improve communication of risks and benefits to older patients. A decision aid informed by the needs of older adults could help to better convey patient-specific risk and increase choice awareness.
Keywords: acute myocardial infarction; geriatrics; qualitative; shared decision making.