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Review: healthcare decision aids improve knowledge, decrease decisional conflict, and increase active participation

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QUESTION: Do decision aids (interventions providing information on options and outcomes designed to help people make specific and deliberate choices related to their health) used as adjuncts to counselling by healthcare practitioners, improve decision making and outcomes for people making treatment or screening decisions?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching Medline (1966 to April 1998), EMBASE/Excerpta Medica (1980 to November 1998), PsycINFO (1979 to March 1998), CINAHL (1983 to February 1998), Aidsline (1980–98), CancerLit (1983 to April 1998), Cochrane Library (1998, Issue 4), personal files, and 3 healthcare journals.

Study selection

Randomised controlled trials were selected if decision aids were compared with controls or alternative interventions and participants were >14 years of age and were making healthcare choices about treatment and screening. Studies were excluded …

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  • Sources of funding: Medical Research Council of Canada.

  • For correspondence: Dr AM O'Connor, University of Ottawa School of Nursing and Faculty of Medicine, Loeb Health Research Institute Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus, Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 4E9, Canada. Fax +1 613 761 5492.

  • A modified version of this abstract appears in ACP Journal Club.