My Lived Experiences Are More Important Than Your Probabilities: The Role of Individualized Risk Estimates for Decision Making about Participation in the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR).

Author(s): Holmberg C,  Waters EA,  Whitehouse K,  Daly M,  McCaskill-Stevens W

Journal: Med Decis Making

Date: 2015 Nov

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): COPTRG

PubMed ID: 26183166

PMC ID: PMC4592416

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Decision-making experts emphasize that understanding and using probabilistic information are important for making informed decisions about medical treatments involving complex risk-benefit tradeoffs. Yet empirical research demonstrates that individuals may not use probabilities when making decisions. OBJECTIVES: To explore decision making and the use of probabilities for decision making from the perspective of women who were risk-eligible to enroll in the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR). METHODS: We conducted narrative interviews with 20 women who agreed to participate in STAR and 20 women who declined. The project was based on a narrative approach. Analysis included the development of summaries of each narrative, and thematic analysis with developing a coding scheme inductively to code all transcripts to identify emerging themes. RESULTS: Interviewees explained and embedded their STAR decisions within experiences encountered throughout their lives. Such lived experiences included but were not limited to breast cancer family history, a personal history of breast biopsies, and experiences or assumptions about taking tamoxifen or medicines more generally. CONCLUSIONS: Women's explanations of their decisions about participating in a breast cancer chemoprevention trial were more complex than decision strategies that rely solely on a quantitative risk-benefit analysis of probabilities derived from populations In addition to precise risk information, clinicians and risk communicators should recognize the importance and legitimacy of lived experience in individual decision making.