Social workers in healthcare settings often support patient decision-making processes for complex medical decisions. The objective of this study was to examine decision support needs for patients considering aortic valve replacement (AVR) for aortic stenosis. Seventeen qualitative interviews were conducted to explore treatment decision experiences of patients who accepted AVR. Analysis was conducted using a mixed inductive-deductive approach. Fear was a prevalent response for most participants in the face of AVR. Two general paths of decision making emerged: an "active" information seeking approach, or a "passive" simplicity seeking approach. Patients with unique clinical presentations felt alienated by the decision-making process. Acknowledging fear while understanding different decision-making styles provide opportunities for social workers and other members of multidisciplinary teams to support complex patient decisions.
Keywords: Healthcare decision making; chronic illness; healthcare social work; person-centered care; qualitative analysis.