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Evidence-Based Practice: Patient Decision Aids

What Is Patient Decision Support

Physician listening to chest sounds

Decision Aids are patient-based tools developed to help patients make medicial decisions about their healthcare. These decisions include whether or not to have surgery, schedule a medical test, begin a treatment, or use a pharmaceutical. These tools can be sheets of paper, pamphlets, interactive online webforms, videos, audiotapes, or workbooks.

Decision aids may include the following:

  • description of the patient's clinical condition (health status) in plain language
  • examples of other patients' experiences
  • list evidence-based treatment options
  • neutral (unbiased) presentation of risks & benefits of each treatment option
  • help to clarify patient preferences (values) about treatment options
  • describe potential outcomes (consequences) of each treatment option (including no treatment)
  • may delineate a treatment process schedule (calendar)

O'Connor AM, Bennett CL, Stacey D, et al.
Decision aids for people facing health treatment or screening decisions.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
2009, Issue 3.
Art. No.: CD001431.

DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001431.pub2

Patient Decision Aids are NOT the following: 

  • general educational materials
  • passive informed consent materials
  • interventions designed to promote compliance with a recommended option

Patient Decision Aid Development

Shared Decision Making

Shared Decision-Making Process:
-- clinician counsels patient, but patient decides best option for himself/herself
-- leads to higher rates of patient compliance
-- creates accurate perception of benefits and harms
-- continues EBP's focus on patient-centered healthcare

Clinician's Role: 
-- expert in medical options for treatment
-- understands benefits, harms / risks of each option

Patient's Role:
-- best expert in judging the value of each option

Patient Decision Aids: Examples