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A recently published study reveals key factors contributing to the underutilization of treatment in multiple myeloma patients. The study emphasizes the importance of understanding patients’ perceptions, the role of physician recommendations, and individual decision-making preferences.

  • Treatment underutilization in multiple myeloma is influenced by patient perceptions, doctor recommendations, and individual decision-making practices.
  • No racial differences were observed in reasons for treatment underuse or delay.
  • Trust and open communication in the patient–physician relationship are significant factors in treatment decisions.

The study, published in the journal Cancers, carried out in-depth interviews with patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma and found that patient perceptions influenced treatment underuse. Patients weighed the perceived disadvantages of treatment, such as potential side effects, logistics, and their quality of life during treatment, against the possible benefits. Some expressed concerns about placing their bodies at risk if treatment efficacy wasn’t guaranteed.

Acknowledging Physician Recommendations

Physician recommendations were reported as primary influences on patient decisions. Patients valued physicians’ honesty about treatment efficacy, side effects, and impacts on quality of life. Trust in their healthcare team played a vital role in their adherence to treatment plans. The study underscores the importance of open communication and honesty with healthcare teams and the alignment of their recommendations with patients’ individual preferences.

Individual Decision-Making Preferences

The study reveals that individual preferences for decision-making significantly affect treatment choices. The patients’ personalities and personal values formed the basis of their decisions. Some patients used past experiences with healthcare to guide their decisions. Treatment decisions were often based on the patients’ current health state, with less regard for potential health gains they could experience in the future with treatment.

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What This Might Mean for Clinicians

For clinicians, these findings highlight the importance of patient-centered communication. They underscore the need to understand patients’ individual priorities and perceptions about treatment advantages and disadvantages. Clinicians are urged to consider patients’ perceptions of current and potential wellbeing and to be aware that these may influence decisions about further treatment. Acknowledging and addressing the emotional and psychological burdens of treatment, along with its effects on patients’ daily lives, is crucial.

This study serves as a reminder that the patient–physician relationship is key, with trust and communication playing especially significant roles when it comes to treatment decisions. Clinicians should focus on building trust and open communication with their patients, ensuring their desires and preferences are acknowledged and supported in the decision-making process. By recognizing these factors, healthcare providers can work towards reducing treatment underuse and improving the overall outcomes for patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma.


Cytryn, R., Bickell, N., Yagnik, R., Jagannath, S., & Lin, J. J. (2023). What Affects Treatment Underuse in Multiple Myeloma in the United States: A Qualitative Study. Cancers, 15(8), 2369. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers15082369