Background: Decision-making experts emphasize that understanding and using probabilistic information are important for making informed decisions about medical treatments involving complex risk-benefit tradeoffs. Yet empirical research demonstrates that individuals may not use probabilities when making decisions. Objectives: To explore decision making and the use of probabilities for decision making from the perspective of women who were risk-eligible to enroll in the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR). Methods: We conducted narrative interviews with 20 women who agreed to participate in STAR and 20 women who declined. The project was based on a narrative approach. Analysis included the development of summaries of each narrative, and thematic analysis with developing a coding scheme inductively to code all transcripts to identify emerging themes. Results: Interviewees explained and embedded their STAR decisions within experiences encountered throughout their lives. Such lived experiences included but were not limited to breast cancer family history, a personal history of breast biopsies, and experiences or assumptions about taking tamoxifen or medicines more generally. Conclusions: Womens explanations of their decisions about participating in a breast cancer chemoprevention trial were more complex than decision strategies that rely solely on a quantitative risk-benefit analysis of probabilities derived from populations In addition to precise risk information, clinicians and risk communicators should recognize the importance and legitimacy of lived experience in individual decision making.
- breast cancer risk
- decision making
- individualized risk information
- lived experiences
- narrative interviews