Factors influencing the decision-making of elderly acute leukemia patients in Japan regarding their treatment

Abstract

Objective: This study examined the process through which elderly patients with new-onset acute leukemia make treatment decisions from the time of diagnosis, in order to identify factors influencing this decision-making process in Japan. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty-two elderly patients with leukemia. The data were analyzed using the modified grounded theory approach. Results: The process of decision-making in elderly patients with leukemia includes three stages: Initial reactions at diagnosis, change in attitudes, and entrusting the physician with the treatment plan. Initial reactions at diagnosis were affected by interactions with others that brought peace of mind to the patients. Change in attitudes was affected by encouragement from others to undergo treatment and their own motivation to face treatment. Patients came to entrust their treatment plan completely to their physician, because they wanted to feel relief and did not want to have to grapple with difficult medical information that was relevant to decision-making about their disease and treatment options. Conclusions: The process of decision-making in elderly patients with leukemia is affected by several factors and included three stages. Our present study findings can provide suggestions on how medical professionals might better support the process of decision-making in elderly patients with leukemia.

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