When to Use Decision Aids
Decision aids are most helpful when:
- There is more than one reasonable choice for treatment, and either the options have similar results or important trade-offs.
For instance, when a stent is placed in a coronary artery, there are two types: a bare metal stent or a stent that is coated in a material to prevent the artery from blocking again. The bare metal stent requires a shorter treatment with a blood thinner. Some patients would choose a shorter treatment with blood thinners instead of aggressive blood thinners to reduce the risk of another blockage. That is an individual decision, and a decision aid can help patients make a better choice for them.
- The benefits and drawbacks of a given treatment would have different value to different people.
For example, medications for depression may vary when it comes to weight gain, sex drive, sleep quality, and how and when to stop taking them. For high blood pressure, diuretics may be great, but they can also make problems like incontinence or prostate enlargement worse.
- There is no clear option. Good decision aids can highlight the lack of data and still support a conversation.
A Decision Aid Helps a Patient Prepare for a Health Decision by:
Source: IPDAS Collaboration checklist
- Providing facts about a person’s condition and the options for treatment.
- Helping patients clearly define their values, and thoughts about what is most important for them during treatment and their top health goal.
- Helping patients share their values with their doctors to come up with the best treatment plan.
Published: August 2017
Medical Reviewers: Katherine Doermann Byrd; William R. Lewis, MD, FACC; Daniel D. Matlock, MD; Janet Wyman, DNP, RNCS, AACC