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Decision Aids


DACovering all potential options for preference sensitive conditions during the 15 minute clinical encounter can be difficult. The perceived time required may prohibit clinicians from engaging in the SDM process. Some clinicians and their clinical staff have elected to use patient Decision Aids (DAs) to facilitate the SDM process.

DAs are one type of decision support intervention. DAs are evidence-based tools that explicitly cover the options, benefits, and risks in cases where there is more than one available treatment or diagnostic option. They may also highlight cases and conditions where there is inadequate scientific evidence to identify a “gold standard” for care. DAs are perceived as an effective supplement to patient-clinician interaction, not a replacement. DAs have three key elements common to their design. They:

  1. Provide Information: DAs present balanced information about treatment or testing options;
  2. Help Clarify Values: DAs help people interpret the options in the context of what is important to them; and
  3. Support Communication: DAs guide patients in how to communicate values and personal preferences to family and health care providers.

How are DAs Produced and Evaluated?
A number of organizations currently produce DAs, including the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, Healthwise, the Mayo Clinic, and the Ottawa Research Review to name a few. The International Patient Decision Aids Standards Instrument (IPDASi assessment) is used to evaluate the quality of DAs. The IPDASi assessment includes 10 dimensions ranging from quality of information and evidence to use of plain language.

DAs are available in multiple formats including print, video and audio media with increased movement towards Internet-based delivery. DAs may be self- or practitioner-administered and can also be used in group situations.


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