Impact of the Primary Information Source Used for Decision Making on Treatment Perceptions and Regret in Prostate Cancer

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Abstract

Objective:

To assess the impact of the primary source of information used by prostate cancer patients to select a radiation treatment on their overall treatment experience and on treatment regret.

Methods:

Patients with low to favorable intermediate-risk prostate cancer treated with stereotactic body radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or high-dose rate brachytherapy were surveyed. The questionnaire explored the decision-making experience, treatment experience, and treatment regret.

Results:

In total, 322 consecutive patients were surveyed with an 86% (n=276) response rate. In total, 48% (n=132) selected their radiation oncologist as the primary information source, 23% (n=62) selected their urologist, 16% (n=44) selected the Internet, 6% (n=17) selected other patients, and 8% (n=21) selected other. In total, 39% of patients who selected the Internet as their primary information source reported their actual treatment experience to be worse than expected versus 13% of respondents who selected their urologist, 12% who selected other patients, and 2% who selected their radiation oncologist (P<0.01). Similarly, 43% who selected the Internet as their primary information source endorsed treatment regret versus 10% who selected their urologist, and 7% who selected their radiation oncologist (P<0.01). On multivariate regression, only patients who selected the Internet as their primary information source were more likely to endorse treatment regret (odds ratio, 46.47; P<0.001) and a worse treatment perception (odds ratio, 83.33; P<0.001).

Conclusions:

Patients who used the Internet as their primary information source were significantly more likely to endorse treatment regret and a worse than expected overall treatment experience. These data highlight the potential dangers of Internet-based resources and the importance for physicians to proactively counsel patients.

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