Supporting breast cancer screening decisions for caregivers of older women with dementia: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Nicole R. Fowler, Mara A. Schonberg, Greg A. Sachs, Peter H. Schwartz, Sujuan Gao, Kathleen A. Lane, Lev Inger, Alexia M. Torke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) impact a woman's life expectancy and her ability to participate in medical decision-making about breast cancer screening, necessitating the involvement of family caregivers. Making decisions about mammography screening for women with ADRD is stressful. There are no data that suggest that breast cancer screening helps women with ADRD live longer or better. Decision aids may improve the quality of decision-making about mammography for ADRD patients and may inform family caregivers about the risks, benefits, and need for decision-making around mammography screening. Methods/design: The Decisions about Cancer Screening in Alzheimer's Disease (DECAD) trial, a randomized controlled clinical trial, will enroll 426 dyads of older women with ADRD (≥75 years) and a family caregiver from clinics and primary-care practices in Indiana to test a novel, evidence-based decision aid. This decision aid includes information about the impact of ADRD on life expectancy, the benefit of mammograms, and the impact on the quality of life for older women with ADRD. Dyads will be randomized to receive the decision aid or active control information about home safety. This trial will examine the effect on the caregiver's decisional conflict (primary outcome) and the caregiver's decision-making self-efficacy (secondary outcome). A second follow-up at 15 months will include a brief, semi-structured interview with the caregiver regarding the patient's experience with mammograms and decision-making about mammograms. At the same time, a review of the patient's electronic medical record (EMR) will look at discussions about mammography with their primary-care physician and mammogram orders, receipt, results, and burden (e.g., additional diagnostic procedures due to false-positive results, identification of an abnormality on the screening exam but further work-up declined, and identification of a clinically unimportant cancer). A third follow-up at 24 months will extract EMR data on mammogram orders, occurrences, results, and the burden of mammograms. Discussion: We hypothesize that caregivers who receive the decision aid will have lower levels of decisional conflict and higher levels of decision-making self-efficacy compared to the control group. We also hypothesize that the DECAD decision aid will reduce mammography use among older women with ADRD. Trial registration: Clinical Trials Register, NCT03282097. Registered on 13 September 2017.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number678
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 12 2018


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • breast cancer
  • dementia
  • mammography
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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