BACKGROUND: Older patients are increasingly encouraged to be actively involved but how they perceive their role in the decision-making process varies according to their health care providers and their health situation. Their role could be influenced by their social context but more specifically by subjective norms (i.e. patients' view of the role that significant others expect them to play in the decision-making process) and perceived social support. We explore how social context (i.e. subjective norms and social support) relates to how the patient perceives their role in the decision-making process. Also, we explore the level of alignment on subjective norms between patients and their informal caregivers and nurses. METHODS: Mixed-method study among older patients, informal caregivers and nurses. For the quantitative questionnaire, a home care organisation randomly selected patients. The patients were asked to identify their informal caregiver and the home care organisation was asked to identify the nurse who was most involved in their care. In total 133 patients, 64 informal caregivers and 72 nurses were questioned. Participants for the qualitative interviews were selected using convenience sampling, resulting in the inclusion of ten patients, five informal caregivers and six nurses. Subjective norms were based on a previous study. Social support was measured with the 'social support for health scale' of the Health Literacy Questionnaire. The Control Preference Scale was used as outcome variable. The interviews focused on subjective norms, social support and how the patient perceived their role. Quantitative analysis included the calculation of subjective norm difference scores between respondent groups, one-way analysis of variance and multinomial logistic regression analysis. Directed content analysis was applied to the interviews using Atlas TI. RESULTS: Lower difference scores were found for patient-informal caregiver dyads (mean = 0.95), implying more alignment than in patient-nurse dyads (mean = 2.12). Patients perceiving themselves to have a shared or passive role tend to believe that they are expected to leave decision-making to the health care provider. Higher social support scores related more to a shared role. Alignment relates to: familiarity with the patient's preferences, overprotectiveness or valuing the care provider's opinion and the severity of the patient's medical history. CONCLUSION: Patients and informal caregivers align on whether the patient should make decisions. The more patients believe that they are expected to leave decision-making to the health care provider, the more they perceive themselves as having a passive role. The more patients who feel they have support, the more they perceive themselves as having a shared role. Patients and caregivers could be facilitated to make role expectations explicit. Examining support resources in the social network is desirable.

Decision-making, Patient role, Social context, Social support, Subjective norms,
BMC Geriatrics
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Doekhie, K.D, Buljac-Samardzic, M, Strating, M.M.H, & Paauwe, J. (2020). Elderly patients' decision-making embedded in the social context: a mixed-method analysis of subjective norms and social support. BMC Geriatrics, 20(1). doi:10.1186/s12877-020-1458-7