Aim In shared decision-making, patients are empowered to actively ask questions and participate in decisions about their healthcare based on their preferences and values. Decision aids should help patients make informed choices among diagnostic or treatment options by delivering evidence-based information on options and outcomes; however, they have rarely been field tested, especially in the primary care context. We therefore evaluated associations between the use of an interactive, transactional and evidence-based library of decision aids (arriba-lib) and communication and decision-making in patients and physicians in the primary care context.
Methods Our electronic library of decision aids (‘arriba-lib’) includes evidence-based modules for cardiovascular prevention, diabetes, coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation and depression. Twenty-nine primary care physicians recruited 192 patients. We used questionnaires to ask patients and physicians about their experiences with and attitudes towards the programme. Patients were interviewed via telephone 2 months after the consultation. Data were analysed by general estimation equations, cross tab analyses and by using effect sizes.
Results Only a minority (8.9%) of the consultations were felt to be too long because physicians said consultations were unacceptably extended by arriba-lib. We found a negative association between the detailedness of the discussion of the clinical problem's definition and the age of the patients. Physicians discuss therapeutic options in less detail with patients who have a formal education of less than 8 years. Patients who were counselled by a physician with no experience in using a decision aid more often reported that they do not remember being counselled with the help of a decision aid or do not wish to be counselled again with a decision aid.
Conclusions Arriba-lib has positive associations to the decision-making process in patients and physicians. It can also be used with older age groups and patients with less formal education. Physicians seem to adapt their counselling strategy to different patient groups. Prior experience with the use of decision aids has an influence on the acceptance of arriba-lib in patients but not on their decision-making or decision implementation.