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The impact of sharing life events and current issues on decision-making for breast reconstructive surgery: The perspectives of healthcare professionals.

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kate SwainstonORCiD, Lorelle Dismore


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Background: To explore healthcare professional’s perspectives on the utility and impact of women with newly diagnosed breast cancer sharing influential life events and current issues on the decision-making process for breast reconstructive surgery.Methods: Adopting a qualitative approach, women with newly diagnosed breast cancer engaged in expressive writing to produce an autobiographical account of their life which was shared with their healthcare team. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven surgeons and breast care nurses to explore experiences of decision-making for breast reconstructive surgery and the value and effects of sharing autobiographical accounts as part of this process. Interview transcripts were analysed with reflexive thematic analysis.Findings: Three themes were derived from data analysis: Relationship building, time for reflection, and promoting an individualised approach. Healthcare professionals described how receiving the written accounts brought the reality and complexity of women’s experiences into focus and highlighted factors associated with decision-making that would have otherwise been unexplored. Reading about women’s feelings provided a space for reflection and in turn enabled a preparation for dialogue around decision-making. The accounts were reported to open up conversation, facilitated a more individualised approach to discussing reconstructive breast surgery and strengthened relationships between women and the healthcare team.Discussion: The findings indicate that autobiographical accounts can be a useful tool to support discussions between women with breast cancer and healthcare professionals during the decision-making process for breast reconstructive surgery. They can be an informational resource, promote open communication, and enhance holistic needs assessment.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Swainston K, Dismore L, Bonnema J, van Wersch A

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: European Health Psychology Conference 2021

Year of Conference: 2021

Acceptance date: 15/05/2021