ABSTRACT: Factors in Making the Decision to Forgo Conventional
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore why and how
patients with cancer decide to forgo conventional cancer
treatments in favor of alternative treatments and which factors
influence such decisions.
Results: Thirty-one persons with cancer, widely varying in age
and tumor sites, volunteered to take part in the study. Of these,
12 refused all conventional treatment, 13 refused most or some
of the treatments recommended, and 6 discontinued conventional
The decision-making model, which emerged from the data,
identifies several groups of variables. These include factors that
predispose participants to the decision to forgo conventional
treatment(s), such as having a close relative or friend who has
died from cancer when receiving conventional treatment; experiences
around the diagnosis; and factors relevant after the diagnosis,
such as beliefs, need for control, side effects of conventional
cancer treatment, and communication with physicians.
outcomes of the decision proved to be an important theme in the
focus groups and interviews.
Clinical Implications: Patients with cancer may benefit from
counseling to help them explore the difference between their
diagnosis and treatment plan and those of family members or
friends who died of cancer while receiving conventional treatment.
Counseling also may be helpful in resolving emotional issues
underlying the decision to forgo treatment.
Last, patients should
have access to healthcare professionals, including physicians and
counselors, who would assist them with their decision making
without judging or intimidating them.
[07/12/2002; Cancer Practice]
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