The Voice of the Patient Methodology: A Novel Mixed-Methods Approach to Identifying Treatment Goals for Men with Prostate Cancer

Many guidelines advocate the use of shared decision making for men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer. Decision aids can facilitate the process of shared decision making. Implicit in this approach is the idea that physicians understand which elements of treatment matter to patients. Little formal work exists to guide physicians or developers of decision aids in identifying these attributes. We use a mixed-methods technique adapted from marketing science, the 'Voice of the Patient', to describe and identify treatment elements of value for men with localized prostate cancer.

We conducted semi-structured interviews with 30 men treated for prostate cancer in the urology clinic of the West Los Angeles Veteran Affairs Medical Center. We used a qualitative analysis to generate themes in patient narratives, and a quantitative approach, agglomerative hierarchical clustering, to identify attributes of treatment that were most relevant to patients making decisions about prostate cancer.

We identified five 'traditional' prostate cancer treatment attributes: sexual dysfunction, bowel problems, urinary problems, lifespan, and others' opinions. We further identified two novel treatment attributes: a treatment's ability to validate a sense of proactivity and the need for an incision (separate from risks of surgery).

Application of a successful marketing technique, the 'Voice of the Customer', in a clinical setting elicits non-obvious attributes that highlight unique patient decision-making concerns. Use of this method in the development of decision aids may result in more effective decision support.

The patient. 2016 Oct 31 [Epub ahead of print]

Christopher S Saigal, Sylvia I Lambrechts, V Seenu Srinivasan, Ely Dahan

Department of Urology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA. ., Department of Urology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA., Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.


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