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Treatment Decision Making and Regret in Parents of Children With Incurable Cancer

Background: The treatment-related decision-making process is a highly emotional time for parents of children with incurable cancer, and they tend to continue the cancer-directed treatment even when they realize that there is no cure for their child. Objective: To evaluate whether parents involved in different treatment decisions regretted their treatment decision after their child's death. Methods: We collected prospective data from 418 parents of children who died of incurable cancer after receiving cancer care at 1 of 4 hospitals. We assessed parent decisional regret and its association with the type of treatment decision made (non–cancer-directed vs cancer-directed). Propensity score–matched analysis (at a ratio of 1:1) was performed. Results: One hundred forty-eight parents (35.4%) reported heightened regret. Two isonumerical arms with 103 (non–cancer-directed) and 103 (cancer-directed) resulted after propensity score matching. Parents with a cancer-directed treatment decision (relative risk, 1.53; 95% confidence interval, 1.24–1.90; P =.002) were more likely to report decisional regret compared with those with a non–cancer-directed decision. Conclusion: Bereaved parents with a cancer-directed treatment decision are more likely to experience increased regret for their decision than bereaved parents involved in a non–cancer-directed treatment decision. Implications: Shared-decision aids should be prepared for young parents with low education to improve disease-related knowledge, accurate risk perceptions, and options congruent with parents' values.

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Type of Reference
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Journal article
Wolters Kluwer
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Journal Titles
Cancer Nursing
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