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Reducing Patient Uncertainty: Implementation of a Shared Decision-Making Process Enhances Treatment Quality and Provider Communication

Annika Gustafson
CJON 2017, 21(1), 113-115 DOI: 10.1188/17.CJON.113-115

Patients with cancer can experience uncertainty when making treatment decisions. When unaddressed, patient uncertainty can result in decisional conflict and decisional regret. Providers can assist in decreasing these factors by involving patients in the decision-making process. Patients who agree to participate should be informed about their diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options, including the benefits, the risks and harms, or the option of no treatment. Providers also can help patients to clarify their values, which reveal patient preferences and inform tailoring of care for each patient. When an informed patient’s personal preferences align with care decisions, decisional quality is achieved.


  • Each patient needs to be carefully assessed to determine his or her desired level of participation in decision making and the amount of information wanted.
  • Patients who are involved, informed, and clear on their personal values tend to achieve quality decisions.
  • Obtaining decisional quality helps to decrease decisional conflict and future decisional regret.

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