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Making Decisions

In reviewing the category Making decisions, I constructed the following themes: (1) regaining a sense of control, (2) changing worldview, (3) medical knowledge, and (4) gut-feelings. The theme regaining a sense of control describes how decisions are based upon need to exert control over the situation. Changing worldview describes how diagnosis and treatment has changes the way decisions are made. The theme medical information describes the medical information used to inform decisions. Finally, the theme gut-feelings describes how certain decisions just feel like they are the right ones.

Regaining a sense of control

Looking at the theme name itself, the word regaining, supports that one of the goals of Making decisions is to regain a sense of control.

Changing worldview

Diagnosis itself is a trigger for a change in worldview, and all decisions made after diagnosis are considered through this new lens.

Medical information

Medical information received from the healthcare team as well as other information sources (e.g. academic resource, trusted internet sources, support groups), informs decisions.

Gut-feelings

Gut-feelings (related to personal values) combine with medical information to inform decisions.

Conclusion

Decision making is a process of searching for ways of regaining a sense of control after a diagnosis that takes away the sense of order. Diagnosis created a new lens, i.e. new worldview, through which to use medical information along with gut-feelings to make decisions.

Footnote: Icons used to construct this image are all CC0 licensed, retrieved from the following sources: (1) magnifying glass: https://pixabay.com/en/glass-icon-magnifying-magnifying-2025715/, (2) medical information: https://pixabay.com/en/prognosis-icon-patient-chart-2803190/, (3) gut-feeling: https://pixabay.com/en/stomach-icon-stomach-icon-gut-2316627/, and (4) control: https://pixabay.com/en/database-search-database-search-icon-2797375/

Theme: Learning about the disease

As an educator, I find myself explaining my understanding of what I had learned about breast cancer as a disease as well as the common treatments. I knew nothing about breast cancer before I was diagnosed. As I learned, I echoed what I learned in the writings in my blog (http://bcbecky.com). The theme Learning about the disease applies to resources where we share resources that help patients learn more about the illness in which they have been diagnosed.

This theme aligns with the definition of digital health literacy as “the ability to seek, find, understand, and appraise health information” (Norman & Skinner, 2008, para 6). Further, it aligns with three of the patient health literacies identified by Jordan (2010), specifically: knowing when to seek health information, knowing where to seek health information, and retaining and processing health information.

My research analysis of the theme Learning about the disease shows that as an ePatient, I never stopped learning about the disease through diagnosis and treatment.

Initially I relied heavily on my healthcare providers to learn more about my disease. However, it became clear after my first support group meeting that I needed to not only learn the medical information about the disease, but also about what it meant to live with the disease. Further, my healthcare team and support groups provided me with information about what questions to ask, and what terms to use, when searching for information on the internet, which in turn provided me the information I needed in order to ask informed questions of my healthcare team, and to provide support to fellow breast cancer survivors.

There became a symbiotic relationship between my healthcare team, support groups (both in-person and online), and electronic sources of medical information such as credible websites and academic journals. Together, these resources have allowed me to continue learning about the disease that I live with.