Document Type : Research Articles
Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, Kurume University, Fukuoka, Japan.
Department of Nursing, School of Medicine, Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, Japan.
Background: This study aimed to articulate chronological characteristics of decisions made by Japanese women with breast cancer (BC) since their diagnosis. Methods: Open-ended questions were asked using an Internet-based cross-sectional survey method. Qualitative content analysis was performed on 1,158 free descriptive responses obtained from 549 participants, which were categorized according to the content of decisions. Furthermore, 994 text data from 433 respondents to the quantitative questions were categorized according to the decisions’ timing and examined in relation to medical and sociodemographic factors. Results: Whereas more than 60% of medical decisions, except chemotherapy, were made before initial treatment, approximately more than one-third of sociopsychological decisions were made only after the initial treatment. In decisions regarding medical care, only surgical decisions showed an association between timing and the participants’ decision-making style. Meanwhile, in decisions regarding sociopsychological matters, socioeconomic status at the time of diagnosis, such as marital and employment status, along with the perceived importance of what was to be determined, were associated with the timing of decision-making related to employment, attitudes toward life with BC, family matters and financial affairs. Conclusion: Women make various decisions depending on the amount of time since the diagnosis of BC. Generally, medical decisions are made prior to initial treatment, while these temporal characteristics are not observed for decisions relating to sociopsychological matters. Furthermore, socioeconomic status influences the timing of decision-making regarding sociopsychological matters. This finding can illustrate the manner in which to go through life with BC, and thus, help women who are unexpectedly diagnosed with BC to be more prepared.