Decision-making in cancer care for people living with dementia

Griffiths, Alys and Ashley, Laura and Kelley, Rachael and Cowdell, Fiona and Collinson, Michelle and Mason, Ellen and Farrin, Amanda and Henry, Ann and Inman, Hayley and Surr, Claire (2020) Decision-making in cancer care for people living with dementia. Psycho-Oncology. ISSN 1057-9249

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Objective: Increasing numbers of people are expected to live with comorbid cancer and dementia. Cancer treatment decision-making for these individuals is complex, particularly for those lacking capacity, requiring support across the cancer care pathway. There is little research to inform practice in this area. This ethnographic study reports on the cancer decision-making experiences of people with cancer and dementia, their families, and healthcare staff.
Methods: Participant observations, informal conversations, semi-structured interviews, and medical note review, in two NHS trusts. Seventeen people with dementia and cancer, 22 relatives and 19 staff members participated.
Results: Decision-making raised complex ethical dilemmas and challenges and raised concerns for families and staff around whether correct decisions had been made. Whose decision it was and to what extent a person with dementia and cancer was able to make decisions was complex, requiring careful and ongoing consultation and close involvement of relatives. The potential impact dementia might have on treatment understanding and toleration required additional consideration by clinicians when evaluating treatment options.
Conclusions: Cancer treatment decision-making for people with dementia is challenging, should be an ongoing process and has emotional impacts for the individual, relatives, and staff. Longer, flexible, and additional appointments may be required to support decision-making by people with cancer and dementia. Evidence-based decision-making guidance on how dementia impacts cancer prognosis, treatment adherence and efficacy is required.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
17 June 2020Accepted
21 June 2020Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dementia, older adults, ethnography, treatment options
Subjects: CAH02 - subjects allied to medicine > CAH02-04 - nursing and midwifery > CAH02-04-01 - nursing (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Nursing and Midwifery
Depositing User: Fiona Cowdell
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2020 12:10
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 15:37

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