Decisional Conflict in Patients With Head and Neck Cancer

Arta Hoesseini*, Maarten C Dorr, Emilie A C Dronkers, Robert Jan Baatenburg de Jong, Aniel Sewnaik, Marinella P J Offerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


IMPORTANCE: Patients who experience less decisional conflict (DC) are more engaged in treatment and less prone to decisional regret, nervousness, and fretting.

OBJECTIVES: To assess DC among patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) after the treatment decision consultation and the association between DC and quality of life as well as the degree of control patients experience in the decision-making process using the control preference scale and the association with DC.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This prospective cohort study with 2 separate cohorts was conducted at a tertiary cancer center and included patients who were eligible for curative treatment of a primary squamous cell carcinoma between January 2014 and August 2018. The 2 cohorts comprised 102 patients with small laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SLSCC) and 161 patients with other HNSCC.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Decisional Conflict Scale (DCS) score, which was scored within 2 weeks after the treatment decision consultation. Other measures included patient characteristics, tumor characteristics, and Control Preference Scale , EuroQol-5D, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire C30, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Eating Assessment Tool, and Voice Handicap Index (VHI) scores.

RESULTS: Of 263 patients, 50 (19%) were women; the mean (SD) age was 66.1 (11.4) years in the SLSCC group and 64.9 (9.8) years in the other HNSCC group. In the SLSCC group, 51 patients (50%) experienced clinically significant DC (total score ≥25) compared with 74 patients (46%) in the other HNSCC group. In the SLSCC group, there was a large difference in the median EuroQol-5D, Global Health status, HADS anxiety, HADS depression, and VHI scores between the patients with a total DCS score of less than 25 and total DCS score of 25 or greater, whereas in the other HNSCC group, this only applied to the VHI. Forty-four patients (43.1%) in the SLSCC group felt their treatment choice was a shared decision, and 39 (38.2%) made the decision themselves. In the other HNSCC group, 62 (38.5%) felt that the physician decided, and 56 (34.8%) felt it was a shared decision. In both groups there was a weak association between control preference scale scores and DC.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The results of this cohort study found that almost half of patients (48%) experienced clinically significant DC. Several quality-of-life measures associated with clinically significant DC were identified. These results suggest that there is room for improvement in aiming to reduce decision delay and decision-related distress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-167
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023

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