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Understanding how shared decision‐making approaches and patient aids influence patients with advanced cancer when deciding on palliative treatments and care: A realist review

Edwards, Michelle ORCID:, Holland-Hart, Daniella ORCID:, Mann, Mala, Seddon, Kathy, Buckle, Peter, Longo, Mirella ORCID:, Byrne, Anthony and Nelson, Annmarie ORCID: 2023. Understanding how shared decision‐making approaches and patient aids influence patients with advanced cancer when deciding on palliative treatments and care: A realist review. Health Expectations 10.1111/hex.13822

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Background: Patients with advanced incurable cancer face difficult decisions about palliative treatment options towards their end of life. However, they are often not provided with the appropriate information and support that is needed to make informed decisions. This review aimed to identify contexts and mechanisms associated with communication tools, patient decision‐aids and shared decision‐making (SDM) approaches that influence patient outcomes. Methods: We used a realist review method to search for published studies of patients (adults > 18) with advanced cancer who were expected to make a decision about palliative treatment and/or supportive care in consultation with healthcare practitioners. We appraised and synthesised literature describing the contexts of (when and how) decision aids and SDM approaches are used, and how these contexts interact with mechanisms (resources and reasoning) which impact patient outcomes. Stakeholders including academics, palliative healthcare professionals (HCPs) and people with lived experience of supporting people with advanced incurable cancer contributed to identifying explanatory accounts. These accounts were documented, analysed and consolidated to contribute to the development of a programme theory. Results: From the 33 included papers, we consolidated findings into 20 explanatory accounts to develop a programme theory that explains key contexts and mechanisms that influence patient and SDM. Contexts include underlying patients' and HCPs' attitudes and approaches. These need to be understood in relation to key mechanisms, including presenting information in multiple formats and providing adequate time and opportunities to prepare for and revisit decisions. Contexts influenced mechanisms which then influence the levels of patient decisional satisfaction, conflict and regret. Conclusions: Our programme theory highlights mechanisms that are important in supporting shared treatment decisions for advanced noncurative cancer. The findings are informative for developing and evaluating interventions to improve understanding and involvement in SDM for patients with advanced incurable cancer. Patient and Public Contribution: We included patient and public involvement (PPI) representatives in four stakeholder meetings. PPI helped to define the scope of the review, identify their unique experiences and perspectives, synthesise their perspectives with our review findings, make decisions about which theories we included in our programme theory and develop recommendations for policy and practice and future research.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: Wiley Open Access
ISSN: 1369-6513
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 July 2023
Date of Acceptance: 1 July 2023
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2023 22:23

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