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What are patient decision aids?
Patient decision aids are tools designed to help people participate in decision making about health care options. They provide information on the options and help patients clarify and communicate the personal value they associate with different features of the options.

Patient decision aids do not advise people to choose one option over another, nor are they meant to replace practitioner consultation. Instead, they prepare patients to make informed, values-based decisions with their practitioner.

Why patient decision aids?
Decision aids are used for complex decisions that need more detailed information and more careful consideration. Complex decisions have multiple options with features that people value differently. Sometimes the scientific evidence about options is limited. Therefore the best choice depends on the personal importance the patient places on the benefits, harms, and scientific uncertainties.

The aim of patient decision aids is to improve the quality of decisions. Decision quality is the extent to which patients choose and/or receive health care interventions that are congruent with their informed and considered values. The features of options that patient value may include the health states that might be affected by the decision, their attitudes towards the chances associated with the relevant options, their willingness to make trade-offs over time and other issues relevant to the decision, including beliefs about the acceptability of particular health care procedures.

Last modified: 2017-09-11.