Supportive Care in Cancer

, 17:69 | Cite as

Forecasting changes in preference over the life span: a qualitative study of African–American men’s prostate cancer decision making

  • Julie H. GoldbergEmail author
  • Alan Schwartz
Original Article


Goals of work

The goal of this study was to explore the processes by which African–American men, at greatest risk, might forecast and manage health changes as they age if they were diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Patients and methods

Twenty-nine African–American men, 40–70 years old, with no history of prostate cancer, participated in four focus groups and four follow-up individual interviews. Transcripts were analyzed using Grounded Theory, with thematic analysis and constant comparison of data.

Main results

There was a curvilinear relationship between age and participants’ preference for quality versus quantity of life in deciding to treat prostate cancer. Two mechanisms accounted for this: a change with age in the (1) reference point for judging value and (2) decision-making goal.


With increasing long-term survivorship, it is vital to understand the multiple decisions cancer patients will face as they continue to age. The current study is an initial step in studying how patients might anticipate and manage such changes.


Prostate cancer Cancer survivors Decision making over the lifespan 



The authors thank the patients and doctors for their participation and Josh Hemmerich for his assistance in gathering the data. Partial support for this research came from the Portes Foundation. The authors’ work was independent of the funders, including the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, and approval of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Education, M/C 591, College of MedicineUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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