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Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy


BACKGROUND: Decision Aids (DAs) effectively translate medical evidence for patients but are not routinely used in clinical practice. Little is known about how DAs are used during patient-clinician encounters.

OBJECTIVE: To characterize the content and communicative function of high-quality DAs during diagnostic clinic visits for prostate cancer.

PARTICIPANTS: 252 men newly diagnosed with localized prostate cancer who had received a DA, 45 treating physicians at 4 US Veterans Administration urology clinics.

METHODS: Qualitative analysis of transcribed audio recordings was used to inductively develop categories capturing content and function of all direct references to DAs (booklet talk). The presence or absence of any booklet talk per transcript was also calculated.

RESULTS: Booklet talk occurred in 55% of transcripts. Content focused on surgical procedures (36%); treatment choice (22%); and clarifying risk classification (17%). The most common function of booklet talk was patient corroboration of physicians' explanations (42%), followed by either physician or patient acknowledgement that the patient had the booklet. Codes reflected the absence of DA use for shared decision-making. In regression analysis, predictors of booklet talk were fewer years of patient education (P = .027) and more time in the encounter (P = .027). Patient race, DA type, time reading the DA, physician informing quality and physician age did not predict booklet talk.

CONCLUSIONS: Results show that good decision aids, systematically provided to patients, appeared to function not to open up deliberations about how to balance benefits and harms of competing treatments, but rather to allow patients to ask narrow technical questions about recommended treatments.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Biopsy; Decision Making; Decision Support Techniques; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Patient Education as Topic; Physician-Patient Relations; Prostatic Neoplasms; Qualitative Research; Referral and Consultation; United States; United States Department of Veterans Affairs; Urologic Surgical Procedures, Male

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