What to Expect in a Decision Aid
Decision aids can take many forms. For the most part, these tools are designed to provide clear, consistent information about or explanation of the following:
- Your health condition in plain language. The tools may include pictures, charts or graphs to help you understand how your condition affects your body.
- Choices for screenings, medications or procedures. In some cases, one option might be to closely watch your condition for changes.
- The pros and cons of each treatment, procedure or test, as well as any uncertainties.
- Questions about your health goals and any special considerations, including what you prefer and need (for example, when deciding whether to use or keep using an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a small device placed in the chest or abdomen to help control dangerous heart rhythm problems).
Decision aids can help you make more informed choices about your care that you can feel good about.
There are many different types of decision aids. Some are online. Others are designed to be used during your doctor visit. Because people learn in different ways, the information may be presented in many formats:
- printed materials
- web-based tools
For example, a decision aid about taking heart failure medication might be available in any or all of the following: as an online video, a brochure in a doctor’s office or an interactive website that includes a worksheet with scenarios based on your answers to a set of questions.
Many decision aids are being added into electronic medical records. That makes it easier for the tools to be used as a routine part of a health visit when someone is diagnosed with a condition.
Published: August 2017
Medical Reviewers: Katherine Doermann Byrd; William R. Lewis, MD, FACC; Daniel D. Matlock, MD; Janet Wyman, DNP, RNCS, AACC