Patient Decision Making in Vestibular Schwannoma: A Survey of the Acoustic Neuroma Association

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Abstract

Objective

To assess the decision-making process of patients with vestibular schwannoma (VS).

Study Design

Patients with VS completed a voluntary survey over a 3-month period.

Setting

Surveys were distributed online through email, Facebook, and member website.

Subjects and Methods

All patients had a diagnosis of VS and were members of the Acoustic Neuroma Association (ANA). A total of 789 patients completed the online survey.

Results

Of the 789 participants, 474 (60%) cited physician recommendation as a significant influential factor in deciding treatment. In our sample, 629 (80%) saw multiple VS specialists and 410 (52%) sought second opinions within the same specialty. Of those who received multiple consults, 242 (59%) of patients reported receiving different opinions regarding treatment. Those undergoing observation spent significantly less time with the physician (41 minutes) compared to surgery (68 minutes) and radiation (60 minutes) patients (P < .001). A total of 32 (4%) patients stated the physician alone made the decision for treatment, and 29 (4%) felt they did not understand all possible treatment options before final decision was made. Of the 414 patients who underwent surgery, 66 (16%) felt they were pressured by the surgeon to choose surgical treatment.

Conclusion

Deciding on a proper VS treatment for patients can be complicated and dependent on numerous clinical and individual factors. It is clear that many patients find it important to seek second opinions from other specialties. Moreover, second opinions within the same specialty are common, and the number of neurotologists consulted correlated with higher decision satisfaction.

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