Unplanned emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations are common during systemic cancer therapy. To determine how patients with cancer trade off treatment benefit with risk of experiencing an ED visit or hospitalization when deciding about systemic therapy, we undertook a discrete choice experiment.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
Patients with breast, colorectal, or head and neck cancer contemplating, receiving, or having previously received systemic therapy were presented with 10 choice tasks (5 in the curative and 5 in the palliative setting) that varied on 3 attributes: benefit, risk of ED visit, and risk of hospitalization. Preferences for attributes and levels were measured using part-worth utilities, estimated using hierarchical Bayes analysis. Segmentation analysis was conducted to identify subgroups with different preferences.
A total of 293 patients completed the survey; most were female (76%), had breast cancer (63%), and were currently receiving systemic therapy (72%) with curative intent (59%). Benefit was the most important decision attribute regardless of treatment intent, followed by risk of hospitalization, then risk of ED visit. Two segments were observed: one large cluster exhibiting logical and consistent choices, and a smaller segment exhibiting illogical and inconsistent choices. Patients in the latter segment were more likely to have metastatic head and neck cancer, be male, were older, and reported fewer prior ED visits.
Although the risk of ED visit or hospitalization contributes to patient treatment preferences, benefit was the most important attribute. Segmentation suggests that a subset of patients may lack cognitive abilities, engagement, or literacy to consistently evaluate treatment choices. Understanding this subset may provide insight into patients’ decision making and understanding of treatment options.