Ethics. Research. Community.

[The participation of women with breast cancer in choosing their treatment: a right as yet to be gained]

Revista latino-americana de enfermagem. 
2003 Jan-Feb
[Record Source: PubMed]
The purpose of this study was to identify how women with breast cancer perceive themselves as subjects in the process of making decisions on their own treatment. Two objectives were pursued: (a) to identify social and political determinants that, by affecting the socialization process of these women, might have influenced them in adopting a style of participation, and (b) to understand the meaning of such participation, as it was perceived by these women at the time they decided on their treatment options. The theoretical-methodological support adopted was that of Symbolic interactionism. The population sample included nine women with breast cancer. Semi-structured interviews allowed data to be gathered, and led to collecting further field notes and data from medical records. The hermeneutic dialectic method was employed as a compass for data interpretation, which made it possible to identify two broad theme units: 'construction of the female identity' and 'style of participation when choosing one's own treatment'. By means of these units it was possible to grasp what it meant for these women to deal with the issue of limits and, therefore, of ethics. In their view, they did not participate in the decision-making process, being regarded as unqualified to decide on the fate of their own bodies and lives. They were thus seen as obedient subjects in relation to medical decisions that are based on the principle of beneficence, where health care delivery is dependent on hierarchical social relationships and power structures are present between classes, genders, and levels of knowledge.
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