Shared Decision-Making

Understand Your Options

What Are Decision Aids?


Decision aids are tools — they can take the form of brochures, videos, or online worksheets and materials — designed to help you better understand your options and clarify what matters to you.

You can use a decision aid while working together with your health care team to decide what is most important to you in regard to your health and treatment options. For example: Do you want to be able to maintain your current activities? Is living longer your top concern? Would you prefer to avoid surgery? Decision aids can help you answer these questions, especially if you are choosing among several options.

Decision aids can help people make informed choices about:

  • Procedures
  • Surgery
  • Medications
  • Genetic testing
  • Screening tests

light bulbDecision aids shouldn't take the place of a thoughtful discussion with your health care team.

The best decision aids support shared decision-making, which is when patients and clinicians work as a team to make care decisions. These tools should also reflect the best-known evidence — that is what the science tells us about how each treatment works.

Doc, What Would You Do?

When faced with more than one treatment option, whether it’s a medication, a procedure or surgery, some people will defer to their doctor and ask: “What would you do?” or “What would you recommend for your loved one?”

While there is nothing wrong with asking your doctor this question, remember it doesn’t factor in your specific situation or preferences. Your values may be very different from your doctor’s.
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Published: August 2017
Medical Reviewers: Katherine Doermann Byrd; William R. Lewis, MD, FACC; Daniel D. Matlock, MD; Janet Wyman, DNP, RNCS, AACC

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