23 August 2023

New review of evidence says they improve involvement and understanding

Most patients find patient decision aids helpful in making decisions about first-line cancer treatment, according to a new review. It emphasises the important role of nurses in supporting patients to make the best treatment choices.

Patient decision aids (PtDAs) are tools that help people make treatment decisions by making the choices explicit, providing information and data about the risks and benefits and by clarifying personal values. They can be especially important for diseases such as prostate cancer, where there are several options for first-line treatment, each with different effects that could influence quality of life.

A review of evidence from 16 studies, reported in the journal Cancer Nursing, found that PtDAs improved understanding of treatment options, and clarified patient values and preferences. They also promoted patient engagement and provided a platform for communicating concerns to healthcare providers.

The researchers, from the United States, South Korea and India, said that nurses play a crucial role in supporting cancer patients and family/caregivers thoughout decision-making. They concluded: “Patient decision aids that balance complex treatment information with simple language and illustrations or graphs can enhance patients’ comprehension. The integration of values clarification exercises into care can further improve patients’ decisional outcomes.”