The insufficiency of time

The complex journey patients face when diagnosed with prostate cancer (PCa) is intensified by the nuanced challenge of shared decision-making (SDM). A recent study by Mr. Günther Carl et al, “Importance of shared decision making in PCa to ensure that patients and clinicians recognise and address patients’ treatment goals” shines light on the diverse challenges confronting both patients and healthcare professionals in this essential cooperative strategy for treatment decisions, spanning from emotional challenges to institutional hurdles.

Thu, 18 Jan 2024 • Dr. Markos Karavitakis, Member, Patient Office Board, Athens (GR)
Prostate CancerPatient OfficeEAU 24 Patient DayEAU 24Annual EAU Congress

One of the most profound barriers impeding effective SDM in PCa is the constrained timeframe within which patients must assimilate information and arrive at informed decisions regarding their treatment. However, this issue isn't isolated merely to the realm of medical consultations - it's intricately intertwined with broader political and policy making dynamics that require thorough evaluation. The results of this study were presented at EAU23 in Milan as part of Patient Day.

Understanding time constraints

According to Carl et al, today's healthcare system sees doctors managing back-to-back appointments, often leading to restricted durations for each patient encounter. While this approach aims to cater to a broader patient base, it unintentionally diminishes the depth of patient-doctor engagements.

Given the weighty decisions associated with PCa treatments, time limitations are more than mere hindrances - they are direct disparities. The onus is now on political authorities to tackle this urgent matter decisively.

Treatment complexities, potential aftermaths, anticipated lifestyle shifts post-treatment, and long-term outlooks all necessitate extensive discussions. Newly diagnosed patients must be afforded adequate room to express their anxieties, inquire, and contemplate the various treatment repercussions.

Political ramifications

At its core, the issue of time limitation has significant political ramifications. Many current healthcare directives are driven by fiscal goals. This endorses maximising patient visits, leading to abbreviated consultations. This model, while potentially efficient in the short term, overlooks the deeper repercussions on patient health and satisfaction.

The prevailing political emphasis on sheer numbers, such as patient counts, over qualitative experiences distorts the essence of healthcare delivery.

It's imperative for decision-makers to revisit and revamp these systems. By accentuating the essence of patient care, policymakers can pioneer reforms ensuring more thorough and impactful doctor patient interactions. This not only bolsters SDM but may also contribute to improved health outcomes, adherence to treatments, and general patient contentment—attributes that could be economically advantageous in the broader scope.


The challenge of navigating SDM with limited time is reflective of deeper, structural inadequacies in healthcare. Advocacy for superior patient care must simultaneously push for political recognition and policy alterations, ensuring each patient is given ample consideration necessary for their health decisions.

• Find out more about the 2024 Patient Day on the EAU24 Website