Decision aid helps people with rectal cancer make tough choices

July 6, 2016

The good news about rectal cancer is that it is often curable through surgery. The bad news is that depending on which kind of surgery is performed, patients can either end up with a significant risk of incontinence or a permanent colostomy (in which the intestine is hooked up to an external bag). Drs. Dawn Stacey, Robert Wu and colleagues evaluated a patient decision aid that uses graphics and questions to help patients weigh the pros and cons of these options and make an informed decision. In a study of 32 patients, they found that the decision aid improved knowledge of the options by 38 percent and reduced decisional conflict by 24 percent. Two patients changed their minds because of the decision aid and 96 percent would recommend it to others. The study was published in Diseases of the Colon and Rectum.

Authors: Wu RC, Boushey RP, Scheer AS, Potter B, Moloo H, Auer R, Tadros S, Roberts P, Stacey D.

Funders: Physicians Service Incorporated Foundation, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation

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