Decision and Communication Support

Breast cancer diagnosis impacts a patient and her family, friends, and others around her. Patients often turn to others for support in their decision process, yet little is known about how others contribute to the treatment decision making process, patient-reported outcomes, or how the influence of networks varies by race/ethnicity. Evidence suggests that patients of different racial and ethnic backgrounds involve and rely on different people (e.g., husbands vs. family/friends) in different ways. Understanding the size and influence of networks in different race/ethnicities is important for determining how to incorporate others into patient care.

Research in CanSORT, led by Dr. Sarah Hawley, is some of the first to document the size and influence of these networks in a population-based sample of newly diagnosed patients. We will evaluate patterns of increased engagement by decision supports, and assess how this engagement contributes to patient-reported outcomes that are essential for patient-centered care. This study builds on the existing infrastructure of the funded NIH project entitled The Challenge of Individualizing Treatments for Patients with Cancer which is already underway by surveying the women and their decision support persons. This research will have important implications for improving the decision making process for both patients and their decision supporters. Results will also lay groundwork for future studies related to developing and deploying decision tools for use by racially and ethnically diverse patients with members of her decision support network to achieve high quality treatment decisions throughout the sequence of breast cancer care.