"You have to be sure that the patient has the full picture": Adaptation of the Best Case/Worst Case communication tool for geriatric oncology

J Geriatr Oncol. 2022 Jun;13(5):606-613. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2022.01.014. Epub 2022 Feb 2.


Background: Shared decision making (SDM) is especially important for older adults with cancer given the risks of over- and undertreatment, uncertainty regarding benefits/harms worsened by research underrepresentation, and individual preferences. We aimed to adapt the Best Case/Worst Case (BC/WC) communication tool, which improves SDM in geriatric surgery, to geriatric oncology.

Methods: We conducted focus groups with 40 stakeholders (fourteen older adults with lung cancer, twelve caregivers, fourteen medical oncologists) to elicit perspectives on using the BC/WC tool for geriatric oncology and to identify components needing refinement. During each focus group, participants viewed a BC/WC demonstration video and answered questions modified from the Decision Aid Acceptability Scale. We analyzed transcripts using deductive and inductive thematic analyses.

Discussion: Participants believed that the BC/WC tool could help patients understand their cancer care choices, explore tradeoffs and picture potential outcomes, and deliberate about decisions based on their goals, preferences, and values. Oncologists also reported the tool could guide conversations to address points that may frequently be skipped (e.g., alternative options, treatment goals). Participant preferences varied widely regarding discussion of the worst-case scenario and desire for statistical information.

Conclusion: The BC/WC tool is a promising strategy that may improve SDM in geriatric oncology and patient understanding of alternative options and treatment goals. Based on participant input, adaptations will include framing cancer care as a series of decisions, eliciting patient preferences and asking permission before offering the worst-case scenario, and selection of the two most relevant options to present if multiple exist.

Keywords: Communication tool; Geriatric oncology; Lung cancer; Shared decision making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Decision Making, Shared
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Oncologists*