The purpose of this study was to find out how cancer patients perceive patient participation in decision-making and to see which factors in their view facilitate and restrict participation. Data were collected in focus group interviews with 25 patients, most of whom had breast cancer. Data interpretation was based on the method of qualitative content analysis.
The results showed that patients, nurses and physicians all play a part in terms of how patients participate in decision-making. Patients defined participation in decision-making in terms of asking questions, obtaining/providing information and choosing from/presenting different alternatives. Among the factors that were thought to promote participation in decision-making were the patient'S activity, the presence of a primary nurse/physician, the encouragement of nurses and physicians to participate, the treatment of patients as equals, and nurses and physicians having enough time for patients. As for factors hindering participation in decision-making, reference was made to patient ignorance, physical and mental imbalance and shyness on the part of the patient. Obstacles to participating in decision-making that originated in the nurses and physicians were the tendency for them to treat patients as objects, to fall in a routine, problems with information dissemination and lack of time.
From the Department of Nursing, University of Turku, Finland.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Carita Sainio, MNSc, PhD(c), RN, University of Turku, Tikankilo 4 C 15, 02660 Espoo, Finland.