When Ryan Hohimer was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March, he was faced with many treatment options. While the 52-year-old research scientist from West Richland, Wash., pondered his choices, he was offered some help. Would he enroll in a clinical trial testing whether a new way to make decisions about prostate cancer treatments is effective?
The new Web-based, interactive program being studied attempts to help men understand personal factors to consider when choosing how to treat early-stage prostate cancer.
Donna Berry, a professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems at the University of Washington, developed the system, called Personal Patient Profile-Prostate, or P4. Men use a touch-screen computer to hear how patients such as themselves talk to doctors about treatment options and search for information.
During the study, in which he participated from home on his computer, Hohimer answered a questionnaire and used various links to research more information. He said it helped him during the weeks between his diagnosis and his decision to have surgery, and understand why surgery was his best option.
Beyond helping with the treatment decisionmaking process, Berry and her team also plan to study whether the Web-based tool helps reduce conflict that men feel about their decision and whether it helps them feel better prepared for treatment.
The three-year clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research has enrolled about 70 men in the study so far. The goal is to enroll 500 men by 2009. It is being conducted at the UW Medical Center, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle Prostate Institute and the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in the Seattle area, and has expanded to sites in Georgia, Texas and Philadelphia.
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