Decision Aids: Identifying optimal components of decision aids


Decision aids are used to help patients make decisions about their treatment options when multiple options are available that are reasonable to choose. Decision aids can be presented in many different ways and some of these ways are helpful to patients while others may bias their decisions.What does a useful decision need to include or avoid?

Risk statistics. Many decision aids need to discuss both risks and benefits of treatment. In addition to examining different methods for presenting such information, we have also explored issues such as the order of information presentation and shown that presenting risk information before benefit statistics can result in different decisions than the reverse order.

Patient testimonials. Patient testimonials regarding the desirability or undesirability of a treatment influence treatment choices independent of statistical information about treatment effectiveness. Our research focuses on understanding the implications of including or excluding patient testimonials from patient decision aids.

The effect of personalization on a decision aid. Personalizing a decision aid and providing tailored content may make the information feel more personally relevant. We have explored this issue through studies that have considered both the use of race and gender matched testimonials and 2nd person language.

Value clarification: integrating probability and utility. Values clarification exercises help people think through the pros and cons of a decision, reflecting on the probability of each outcome as well as the desirability (or utility) of each outcome. However, no one has tested what factors actually influence the way people undertake values clarification exercises. We are concerned that such exercises could create biases. We will test values clarification exercises, different graphical images, and the number and probability of pros and cons to determine how each factor influences decision making.