On February 11, JCO CCI Clinical Cancer Informatics (JCO CCI) published its third special collection of articles, this one on the topic of “Decision Making in Oncology.” This collection examines decision making in oncology and the benefits and challenges of various tools and methods. As the collection’s Guest Editor Paul Martin Putora, MD, PhD, MA, BSc, states in his introduction, “This collection provides little trips into the vast field of decision making in oncology. Hopefully, it will inspire interest and provoke submissions related to this topic.”
The collection examines various aspects of decision making in oncology, including how best to keep patients at the center of the process, the quality of the tools available to patients and providers, and the limitations of such tools.
Dr. Putora cautions that while considering all of the opportunities and challenges that big data and artificial intelligence bring, those in the oncology field “must equally pay attention to a basic process at the core of oncology – how we make decisions” because it is the center of the quality of care: “Decision making influences the availability of treatment options, patient satisfaction, oncological outcomes and the efficient use of resources.”
The invited reviews in the “Decision Making in Oncology” collection bring to readers, as Dr. Putora states, “a few of the many aspects of decision making in oncology”:
- “What is the Effectiveness of Patient Decision Aids for Cancer-Related Decisions? A Systematic Review Subanalysis,” which analyzes trials in the 2017 Cochrane Review to determine the effectiveness of patient decision aids when used with patients facing cancer-related decisions.
- “Decision Support Systems in Oncology,” which examines using multifactorial decision support systems—continuously learning artificial intelligence platforms that integrate all available data—to compare the personalized probable outcomes of various care pathway decisions.
- “Prospects and Challenges for Clinical Decision Support in the Era of Big Data,” which presents the current status of clinical decision support systems in oncology, the prospects and challenges of big data analytics, and the promising role of integrated modern statistics and machine learning algorithms in predicting complex clinical endpoints, individualizing treatment rules, and optimizing dynamic personalized treatment regimens.
- “Bring on the Machines: Could Machine Learning Improve the Quality of Patient Education Materials? A Systematic Search and Rapid Review,” which examines using machine learning technologies to assess patient-education materials.
- “Cognitive Bias: The Downside of Shared Decision Making,” which presents evidence of common cognitive biases that are likely to influence treatment choices of patients with cancer and other illnesses.
- “The Benefits and Challenges of Using Patient Decision Aids to Support Shared Decision Making in Health Care,” which reviews patient decision aids as a means of supporting shared decision making by presenting clinical information and risk data in an accessible and easy-to-understand format.
- “Treatment Options in Oncology,” which provides a summary of different reasons for the existence of multiple treatment options in oncology, including factors concerning the treating physician, environment, and individual patient-specific factors (e.g., medical condition and preferences).
By publishing this collection, JCO CCI is putting into practice its mission of being an interdisciplinary journal publishing clinically relevant research. The editors hope that this will lead to further discussion in this important topic area—decision making in oncology—that can further impact the quality of care for patients with cancer. As Dr. Putora states in his overview to the collection, “The science of decision making is multidisciplinary by nature. Input from economy, neuro-science, statistics, game theory, psychology, informatics and other disciplines helps shape our understanding of decision making.”
Read the full collection of articles.