Patient perceptions of their decision to undergo palliative chemotherapy in the Edinburgh Cancer Centre

Joanna Bowden, Beth Gwyther, Allan Price, Amanda Swan, Fiona Nussey, Belinda Hacking, Morven Caroline Shearer, Anna Lloyd

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Background The decision to undergo chemotherapy for incurable cancer demands informed discussions about the risks and benefits of proposed treatments. Research has shown that many patients have a poor grasp of these factors.

Methods An evaluation of the patient experience of palliative chemotherapy decision-making was undertaken. Patients with lung or gynaecological cancers were surveyed about their decision, what they understood about its risks and benefits, and how supported they felt.

Results A total of 29 people with lung cancer (n = 21) or gynaecological cancer (n = 8) completed questionnaires. The majority felt sure about their decision, though many were less sure of the risks and benefits of treatment. Unprompted comments revealed significant nuance, including that the decision to undergo chemotherapy may not necessarily have felt like a choice.

Conclusions Our positive findings may reflect participant selection bias, or could represent genuine comfort in decision-making in Scottish oncology clinics. Further research is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-203
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • Informed consent
  • Palliative chemotherapy
  • Shared decision-making


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