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BJU Int. 2003 Sep;92(4):365-9.

Partner's influence on patient preference for treatment in early prostate cancer.

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Department of Urology, Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, UK.



To determine the partner's influence on the patient's choice of treatment for early prostate cancer, and whether partner characteristics and biases predict the preference.


Questionnaires for partners to complete retrospectively were sent to consecutive patients recruited in a study comparing treatment options for early prostate cancer. The partners' perceptions about prostate cancer were explored and the partners asked to comment on the suitability of each treatment option. Partners recorded their influence on the patient's choice using a 10-point visual linear analogue scale.


Questionnaires were sent to 116 eligible patients and 82 were returned for analysis (mean partner age 63 years). When asked to recall the treatment options initially discussed, all partners recalled radiotherapy (EBRT), all but one radical prostatectomy (RP), 51% brachytherapy, but only 29% watchful waiting (WW); 41% of partners stated RP as their chosen option, 37% EBRT, 12% brachytherapy and 10% no clear favourite. None preferred WW. Employment and education status were not significant predictors of partners' preference but retired partners and those aged > 65 years were 3 times more likely to prefer EBRT than were their employed and younger counterparts, respectively. The partners' mean (median, SD) self-assessed influence factor was 4.8 (5, 3.4). Of the partners, 88% reported active involvement throughout the process, identifying information-gathering and emotional support as their primary roles. Most deliberately chose not to influence the patient's final decision.


Partner preference is influenced by pre-existing conceptions about cancer and its treatment. While undoubtedly influential throughout the decision-making process, partners deliberately left the final decision to the patient.

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