Toward theoretical understanding of the fertility preservation decision-making process: Examining information processing among young women with cancer

Patricia E. Hershberger, Lorna Finnegan, Susan Altfeld, Sara Lake, Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Background: Young women with cancer now face the complex decision about whether to undergo fertility preservation. Yet little is known about how these women process information involved in making this decision. Objective: The purpose of this article is to expand theoretical understanding of the decision-making process by examining aspects of information processing among young women diagnosed with cancer. Methods: Using a grounded theory approach, 27 women with cancer participated in individual, semistructured interviews. Data were coded and analyzed using constant-comparison techniques that were guided by 5 dimensions within the Contemplate phase of the decision-making process framework. Results: In the first dimension, young women acquired information primarily from clinicians and Internet sources. Experiential information, often obtained from peers, occurred in the second dimension. Preferences and values were constructed in the third dimension as women acquired factual, moral, and ethical information. Women desired tailored, personalized information that was specific to their situation in the fourth dimension; however, women struggled with communicating these needs to clinicians. In the fifth dimension, women offered detailed descriptions of clinician behaviors that enhance or impede decisional debriefing. Conclusion: Better understanding of theoretical underpinnings surrounding women's information processes can facilitate decision support and improve clinical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-275
Number of pages19
JournalResearch and Theory for Nursing Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Decision theory
  • Health communication
  • Information-seeking behavior
  • Oncofertility
  • Survivorship
  • Young adult cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory

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