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Shared Decision Making Resource Center

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Patient Decision Aids

What are patient decision aids?

According to the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, patient decision aids are tools that help people become involved in decision making by providing information about the options and outcomes and by clarifying personal values.

They are designed to complement, rather than replace, counseling from a health practitioner.

A distinguishing feature of a decision aid is the inclusion of exercises designed to promote clarification of the patient's values…and what it is that he or she is trying to achieve as a result of treatment (Llewellyn-Thomas, 1995).

How is the quality of a patient decision aid evaluated?

The International Patient Decision Aids Standards Collaboration has developed a framework for evaluating decision aids based on detailed criteria that address:

  • detailed information about options
  • use of plain language
  • absence of bias
  • processes for development and revision
  • efficacy in helping patients to make informed and values-based decisions

The 2011 Cochrane Review: Decision aids for people facing health treatment or screening decisions presents a comprehensive review of research on patient decision aids. 

Producers of Patient Decision Aids

Healthwise Decision Points
These online tools guide patients through clinical information, comparison of options, patient statements about their own decisions, and clarification of personal values, resulting in a clinical summary that can be reviewed with a provider.

Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making  
In collaboration with Health Dialog, FIMDM produces decision aids in both DVD/booklet formats and in online Health Crossroads® formats. These decision aids feature both clinical evidence and patient stories about personal decisions, and may also include worksheets for decision making.

The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers a decision aid for men with localized prostate cancer.

Mayo Clinic has created two decision aids for diabetes care, designed to be used during a clinical encounter.

The Decision Laboratory at Cardiff University, Wales, UK has created and researched several decision aids including BresDex, ProsDex, and AmnioDex.  In addition, the Laboratory’s Decision Grid  is a general decision making tool for use by providers and patients during a clinical encounter.

See Also:

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute: A-Z Inventory of Decision Aids

(from multiple developers).


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