The choice to undergo mastectomy and breast reconstruction is a highly personal decision with profound psychosocial effects, and ultimately, the decision between implant- and autologous tissue-based reconstruction should be made based on a combination of factual information and the patient's personal values and preferences. Unfortunately, patients undergoing breast reconstruction surgery may experience decision regret. Decision aids promote patient involvement in decision making by not only providing standard information about options, but also emphasizing comparative risks, benefits, and alternatives, and most importantly by providing clarification exercises regarding personal values to guide patients toward an individualized decision.
We developed a novel decision aid to provide decision support and structured guidance for prosthetic, autologous, and combined prosthetic-autologous breast reconstruction surgery. New breast reconstruction patients of one surgeon at our institution were randomized by week to either receive the decision aid or standard preconsultation material. Immediately preceding their new patient consultation clinic visit, patients were asked to complete the validated Decisional Conflict Scale and the BREAST-Q Preoperative survey. After 3 to 5 months following breast mound reconstruction, patients were asked to complete the Decision Regret Scale, BREAST-Q Postoperative survey, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Patients who received the decision aid demonstrated a trend toward decreased preoperative decisional conflict (mean of 13.3 ± 5.5, compared to 26.2 ± 4.2; n = 8 per group, P = 0.069), with similar preoperative BREAST-Q scores. Most patients desired to know “everything” regarding their reconstruction surgery (75%), and to be “very involved” in the decisions in their care (81%), with remaining patients wanting to know “as much as I need to be prepared” and to be “somewhat involved.” Postoperatively, patients who received the decision aid demonstrated significantly less decision regret (P < 0.001), although there was no significant difference in anxiety, depression, or quality of life-related outcomes as measured by the BREAST-Q.
The use of decision aids in breast reconstruction surgery may help decrease decisional conflict and regret through promoting improved information sharing and shared decision making, which are highly important in this particular setting, patient population, and in our move toward greater patient-centered care.
From the *Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA; and †Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.
Received July 7, 2015, and accepted for publication, after revision, November 17, 2015.
Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.
Reprints: Gordon K. Lee, MD, FACS, Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, 770 Welch Rd, #400 Stanford, CA 94304-5715. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Presented at the 65th Annual Meeting of the California Society of Plastic Surgeons.