Attitudes and Decisional Conflict Regarding Breast Reconstruction Among Breast Cancer Patients

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The decision to undergo breast reconstruction (BR) surgery after mastectomy is made during stressful circumstances. Many women do not feel well prepared to make this decision.


Using the Ottawa Decision Support Framework, this study aims to describe women’s reasons to choose or not choose BR, BR knowledge, decisional preparedness, and decisional conflict about BR. Possible demographic, medical, BR knowledge, and attitudinal correlates of decisional conflict about BR were also evaluated.


Participants were 55 women with early-stage breast cancer drawn from the baseline data of a pilot randomized trial evaluating the efficacy of a BR decision support aid for breast cancer patients considering BR.


The most highly ranked reasons to choose BR were the desire for breasts to be equal in size, the desire to wake up from surgery with a breast in place, and perceived bother of a scar with no breast. The most highly ranked reasons not to choose BR were related to the surgical risks and complications. Regression analyses indicated that decisional conflict was associated with higher number of reasons not to choose BR and lower levels of decisional preparedness.


The results suggest that breast cancer patients considering BR may benefit from decisional support.

Implications for Clinical Practice:

Healthcare professionals may facilitate decision making by focusing on reasons for each patient’s uncertainty and unaddressed concerns. All patients, even those who have consulted with a plastic surgeon and remain uncertain about their decision, may benefit from decision support from a health professional.

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