A study published in BMJ Open has aimed to investigate how cancer treatment decisions are formulated for older people with complex health and social care needs, and the factors that shape these processes.
The researchers interviewed 22 clinicians from breast and colorectal cancer services in five English hospitals and observed multi-disciplinary team meetings.
Respondents expressed a desire to involve people with cancer in making decisions about their treatment, but felt older patients needed more time for assessment and discussion of treatment options.
Clinicians consistently cited the influence of time pressures in the cancer treatment pathway that determined when treatment should begin, driving the decision-making process and determining their work schedules. Most respondents wanted to enable patients to make choices about treatment but could not always allow them to do so at their own pace because of national targets that dictated the maximum length of time between diagnosis and the start of treatment.
Professionals having time to build relationships with patients were identified as critical to enabling optimal involvement in decisions and in the best treatment decision for that individual being formulated.
The full study can be read here.