A systematic review of the literature

An initial scope for existing literature reviews in prostate cancer research yielded two reviews [25, 26]. The more recent review [26] was conducted five years ago and restricted its search period to a 14 year time span, used a small number of literature databases and only searched for original, peer-reviewed studies to explore broadly the personal (not just beliefs specifically) and external factors pertaining to the decision-making process of patients. It concluded that there is a general lack of understanding about the role of patients' beliefs in treatment selection and that this was an area worthy of enquiry. Our aim was, therefore, to provide an updated review on factors influencing treatment selection for LPCa, as well as specifically examine the literature pertaining to patients' personal beliefs about LPCa and/or its treatments.

A systematic search of the literature was conducted in electronic databases to retrieve relevant published papers from 1980 - 2010, which included: MEDLINE (1950-present); CI-NAHL; ScienceDirect and CancerLIT (PubMed). Searches were conducted by exploding and combining the medical subject term 'prostate cancer' and free-text words, such as 'beliefs, cognitions, choices, treatment options'. A language restriction was not set whilst searching for the papers.

Non-scholarly literature was searched using the following charity databases: The Prostate Cancer Charity (Jan-April 2010) and Cancer Research UK. The following Government websites were also searched: World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations was searched for theses discussing relevant work and studies.

The reference lists of literature reviews were hand-searched and key authors identified from the search procedure were contacted for any other relevant studies.

The studies retrieved from the literature searches were screened against the inclusion criteria, which included: (i) samples of men diagnosed with, and being treated for, LPCa, and (ii) studies examining patients' beliefs about their LPCa and treatment options. All study designs except reviews, opinion papers and single case studies, were considered for inclusion into the present review.

The titles and abstracts of the references yielded from the search procedure were screened against the inclusion criteria. The full text of the potentially relevant papers were retrieved and read for consideration into the review. The papers that met the inclusion criteria were assessed for their methodological quality.

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