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How Patients View Lung Cancer Screening. The Role of Uncertainty in Medical Decision Making.

Schapira MM, Aggarwal C, Akers S, Aysola J, Imbert D, Langer C, Simone CB, Strittmatter E, Vachani A, Fraenkel L. How Patients View Lung Cancer Screening. The Role of Uncertainty in Medical Decision Making. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2016 Nov 1; 13(11):1969-1976.

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RATIONALE: Radiographic lung cancer screening guidelines and coverage requirements warrant a shared decision-making process. Guidance is needed regarding how to conduct shared decision making effectively. A useful organizing theme should include consideration of a patient's response to and tolerance of uncertainty associated with lung cancer screening. OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study are to: (1) describe how patients respond to specific categories of uncertainty in the context of lung cancer screening, and (2) inform strategies for addressing concerns about uncertainty as part of the shared decision making. METHODS: We performed two series of structured interviews on participants in a convenience sample of current or former cigarette smokers recruited from primary care and pulmonary practices in Philadelphia. An interview guide included prompts related to benefits, harms, and responses to general and specific types of uncertainty (stochastic, statistical, and evidentiary) associated with lung cancer screening. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and independently coded by two investigators. An inductive analysis was conducted, and major themes were identified. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Twenty-two adults participated in the study. Sixty-eight percent were men, 72% were black or African American, and 50% met U.S. Preventive Services Task Force criteria for lung cancer screening. The primary themes to emerge from our study were: (1) the desire to decrease uncertainty may motivate lung cancer screening decisions; (2) uncertainty is an attribute of health states that impacts how patients weigh benefits and harms of lung cancer screening; (3) patient understanding and tolerance of uncertainty varies across stochastic, statistical, and evidentiary uncertainty; and (4) provider-patient communication may mitigate intolerance of uncertainty in the context of lung cancer screening. CONCLUSIONS: A systematic approach to understanding and addressing patients' concerns about uncertainty in the context of lung cancer screening can guide a patient-centered approach to shared decision making. The results of this study can inform provider-patient communication strategies regarding the decision to perform radiographic lung cancer screening.

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