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Fighting the War on Cancer: Effects of War Frame, Loss-Gain Prime and Patient Gender on Treatment Decision

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This purpose of this thesis study was to examine variables of the "War on Cancer" frame, loss-gain prime, and patient gender on treatment decision for advanced cancer patients. A total

This purpose of this thesis study was to examine variables of the "War on Cancer" frame, loss-gain prime, and patient gender on treatment decision for advanced cancer patients. A total of 291 participants (141 females) participated in an online survey experiment and were randomly assigned to one of eight possible conditions, each of which were comprised of a combination of one of two levels for three total independent variables: war frame ("War on Cancer" frame or neutral frame), loss-gain prime (loss prime or gain prime), and patient gender (female or male). Each of the three variables were operationalized to determine whether or not the exposure to the war on cancer paradigm, loss-frame language, or male patient gender would increase the likelihood of a participant choosing a more aggressive cancer treatment. Participants read a patient scenario and were asked to respond to questions related to motivating factors. Participants were then asked to report preference for one of two treatment decisions. Participants were then asked to provide brief demographic information in addition to responding to questions about military history, war attitudes, and cancer history. The aforementioned manipulations sought to determine whether exposure to various factors would make a substantive difference in final treatment decision. Contrary to the predicted results, participants in the war frame condition (M = 3.85, SD = 1.48) were more likely to choose the pursuit of palliative care (as opposed to aggressive treatment) than participants in the neutral frame condition (M = 3.54, SD = 1.23). Ultimately, these significant findings suggest that there is practical information to be gained from treatment presentation manipulations. By arming healthcare providers with a more pointed understanding of the nuances of treatment presentation, we can hope to empower patients, their loved ones, and healthcare providers entrenched in the world of cancer treatment.

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  • 2016-05