Treatment Decision Making and Its Discontents Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Patient participation in treatment decision making is held as a virtue in clinical contexts, and has much to recommend it. Yet important questions have been raised about the assumptions underlying models of patient participation. Debates have arisen about the significance of medically defined risks and outcomes of treatment; the adequacy and relevance across social groups of the concept of autonomy; and the emphasis on the professional-patient dyad. This article contributes to the debate about treatment decision making with reference to a study focused on older women with cancer. Interviews with patients and cancer care professionals highlighted the salience to patients' treatment choices of experiential knowledge, social roles and responsibilities, and the health policy context. It appears that prevailing models of decision making may obscure patients' more typical decision processes as well as the social determinants of those choices.

publication date

  • August 4, 2009