Naturally, you must play a critical role in making decisions related to your cancer care. However, the burden of making these decisions is heavy, and you may not feel prepared to make them. That’s why shared decision-making (SDM) has become a cornerstone of comprehensive cancer care. SDM is all about engaging patients throughout the entire process and creating a dialogue with each healthcare team member so that everyone remains informed about treatment options and the progress of treatment to attain the best outcome. 


At Beacon Clinic in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we know that cancer treatment plans can involve many specialists in multiple medical disciplines. We also know that cancer affects not just the patient but the patient’s family, friends, and home caregivers. Moreover, putting the onus of all care decisions on a patient who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis and any adverse effects of treatment can be overwhelming. SDM is a way to support patients in their cancer journey by providing expertise, information, and compassion so patients can confidently and with minimal stress make choices that align with their priorities.


Comprehensive Cancer Care


In the shared decision-making model, the patient and healthcare professionals collaborate to develop an individualized treatment plan. This process of joint deliberation allows for collaboration and dialogue regarding all aspects of the patient’s case and its unique characteristics. Healthcare providers use various methods, such as education, objective data presentations, or visual aids, to facilitate a meaningful discussion about treatment options, lifestyle choices, and their consequences. Throughout the process, the providers consider the patient’s particular circumstances: age, other health issues, family situation, personal priorities, concerns, and so on.


The goal is for healthcare providers to acknowledge, respect, and understand the medical evidence and a patient’s personal beliefs, values, preferences, and lifestyle considerations. In this way, shared decision-making helps promote patient engagement and autonomy and improves outcomes for cancer care management.


Patient Needs, Values, and Preferences


Cancer patients often go through various emotional stages during their diagnosis and treatment. By gaining a thorough understanding of what is important to them, we can ensure that the patient is more likely to accept and adhere to the treatment plan they help develop. Additionally, considering each individual’s unique needs, values, and preferences helps create a more customized approach, which can lead to higher satisfaction.


Where available treatment options do not align with the patient’s needs and preferences, we sometimes have the opportunity to recommend innovative clinical trials better suited to the patient’s particular circumstances.


At Beacon, we provide a supportive environment for open discussion to ensure that all crucial considerations are discussed and analyzed. This provides clarity of direction and ensures that each medical decision is made after sufficient deliberation. Additionally, the combination of effective and empathetic communication helps to build trust, enabling us to provide the right supportive services, such as nutrition or financial counseling, to those affected by cancer.


Family and Friends


Family and friends are often a source of emotional support, providing comfort and care throughout the treatment process. Relatives also provide practical support, assisting with everyday activities that may become difficult during treatment. Family and friends can become part of the shared decision-making process, helping a patient to decide whether to take a particular course of action. This can be critical, as family and friends who have a more intimate relationship with the patient may perceive and anticipate issues that even the patient may overlook.


The SDM process involves collaboratively assessing the patient’s performance and tolerability in response to a particular treatment plan on an ongoing basis. It also accounts for changes in goals, prognosis, and preferences over time, allowing adjustments as required. Through shared input, we can achieve optimal results both in quantitative medical outcomes and in the patient’s quality of life.

If you are interested in learning more about how shared decision-making can positively influence your cancer treatment plan and help bring greater peace of mind during this important time in your life, call Beacon Clinic today and speak with one of our cancer care team members.