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Patient decision aids for cancer treatment: Are there any alternatives?


Background — Although patient decision aids (pDAs) are effective, widespread use of pDAs for cancer treatment has not been achieved. The objectives of this study were to perform a systematic review to identify alternate types of decision support interventions (DSIs) for cancer treatment and a meta-analysis to compare the effectiveness of these DSIs to pDAs.

Methods — The inclusion criteria for the study were: 1) all published studies using a randomized, controlled trial design, and 2) DSIs involving treatment decision-making for breast, prostate, colorectal, and/or lung cancer. For this analysis, DSIs were classified as pDAs if: 1) one reported outcome measure mapped onto the International Patient Decision Aids Standards Collaboration effectiveness criterion, and 2) the DSI was evaluated relative to standard consultation. Random effects models were used to compare the effectiveness of pDAs relative to other identified DSIs for reported outcomes.

Results — A total of 71 studies were reviewed, and 24 met the inclusion criteria. Overall, there were no significant differences in knowledge, satisfaction, anxiety, or decisional conflict scores between pDAs and other DSIs.

Conclusions — This study showed that the effectiveness of other DSIs, including question prompt lists and audiorecording of the consultation, is similar to pDAs. This is important because it may be that these less complex DSIs may be all that is necessary to achieve similar outcomes as pDAs for cancer treatment.



Spiegle G, Al-Sukhni E, Schmocker S, Gagliardi AR, Victor JC, Baxter NN, Kennedy ED. Cancer. 2013; 119(1):189-200. Epub 2012 Jul 18.

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