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Dartmouth Institute Receives $2 Million to Study Use of Decision Aids in Breast Cancer Treatment

By Paige Stein

A research team at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice has received a $2 million funding award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to conduct a research project that is likely to change the way women and their doctors make decisions about breast cancer surgery. Led by Assistant Professor Marie-Anne Durand, PhD, the project will compare care that incorporates the use of two effective decision aids—an Option Grid™ and a Picture Option Grid™—with usual care received by women newly diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer (stages I to IIIA).

One in eight women will develop breast cancer. The diagnosis is traumatic and life-altering, and information about treatment options can be overwhelming and confusing, particularly for women of lower socio-economic status (SES) or health literacy.

"We believe that by using new tools like Option Grid decision aids women will be able to get better information, have more productive conversations with their doctors, and ultimately will be better able to choose the surgery and treatment option that's right for them," said Durand.

The multi-site, three-year study will include 1,000 patients recruited from four large cancer centers, including the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. The researchers hope to show that women who are able to use decision aids during the course of their care are more meaningfully involved (with their physicians) in creating a treatment plan for themselves, have lower anxiety, less decision regret, and a higher quality of life than women who receive the usual care (that typically doesn't integrate decision aids).

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Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College