Patient-reported factors influencing the treatment decision-making process of older women with non-metastatic breast cancer: a systematic review of qualitative evidence

Fernando A. Angarita, Maryam Elmi, Yimeng Zhang, Nicole J. Look Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: Older women (≥ 70 years old) with breast cancer undergo different treatments than young women. Studies have examined factors that influence this disparity, but synthesized patient-reported data are lacking in the literature. This study aims to identify, appraise, and synthesize the existing qualitative evidence on patient-reported factors influencing older women's decision to accept or decline breast cancer treatment. Methods: A systematic review was performed in accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Protocols (PRISMA) principles. Medline, Embase, CINAHL, and PsycINFO were searched for qualitative studies describing patient-reported factors influencing the decision-making process of older women (≥ 70 years old) with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer. Quality was assessed using the Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research (SRQR) criteria. Common ideas were coded, thematically organized, and synthesized within a theoretical framework. Results: Of 5998 studies identified, 10 met eligibility criteria. The median SRQR total score was 13.04 (IQR 12.84–13.81). The studies represented a range of cancer treatments; most of the studies focused on surgery and primary endocrine therapy. Our data show that the most common patient-reported factors in the decision-making process included treatment characteristics, personal goals/beliefs, patient characteristics, physician’s recommendation, and personal/family experience. These factors led the patient to either accept or decline treatment, and were not consistent across all studies included. Studies used different interview guides, which may have affected these results. Conclusions: This systematic review highlights the complexity of factors that influence an older woman’s treatment decision-making process. Acknowledging and addressing these factors may improve discussions about treatment choices between older women and their health care providers, and encourage maximization of a patient-centered approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-564
Number of pages20
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Breast cancer
  • Clinical decision making
  • Older women
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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