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Health Serv Res. 2005 Jun;40(3):745-67.

Satisfaction with surgery outcomes and the decision process in a population-based sample of women with breast cancer.

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  • 1109 Observatory, Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-2029, USA.



To better understand medical decision making in the context of "preference sensitive care," we investigated factors associated with breast cancer patients' satisfaction with the type of surgery received and with the decision process.


For a population-based sample of recently diagnosed breast cancer patients in the Detroit and Los Angeles metropolitan areas (N=1,633), demographic and clinical data were obtained from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results tumor registry, and self-reported psychosocial and satisfaction data were obtained through a mailed survey (78.4 percent response rate).


Cross-sectional design in which multivariable logistic regression was used to identify sociodemographic and clinical factors associated with three satisfaction measures: low satisfaction with surgery type, low satisfaction with the decision process, and decision regret.


Overall, there were high levels of satisfaction with both surgery and the decision process, and low rates of decision regret. Ethnic minority women and those with low incomes were more likely to have low satisfaction or decision regret. In addition, the match between patient preferences regarding decision involvement and their actual level of involvement was a strong indicator of satisfaction and decision regret/ambivalence. While having less involvement than preferred was a significant indicator of low satisfaction and regret, having more involvement than preferred was also a risk factor. Women who received mastectomy without reconstruction were more likely to report low satisfaction with surgery (odds ratio [OR]=1.54, p<.05), low satisfaction with the process (OR=1.37, p<.05), and decision regret (OR=1.55, p<.05) compared with those receiving breast conserving surgery (BCS). An additional finding was that as patients' level of involvement in the decision process increased, the rate of mastectomy also increased (p<.001).


A significant proportion of breast cancer patients experience a decision process that matches their preferences for participation, and report satisfaction with both the process and the outcome. However, women who report more involvement in the decision process are significantly less likely to receive a lumpectomy. Thus, increasing patient involvement in the decision process will not necessarily increase use of BCS or lead to greater satisfaction. The most salient aspect for satisfaction with the decision making process is the match between patients' preferences and experiences regarding participation.

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