Decision Aids

Authored by , Reviewed by Dr Sarah Jarvis MBE on | Certified by The Information Standard

This article is for Medical Professionals

Professional Reference articles are designed for health professionals to use. They are written by UK doctors and based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. You may find one of our health articles more useful.

When helping patients make decisions about their health, there may be many different treatment options, each with different outcomes. These aids concisely display the risks and benefits for each option.

Many of these decision aids were developed by the MAGIC project which stands for 'making good decisions in collaboration'. It looked at how to embed best practice in shared decision making. Decision Aids help medical professionals and patients to understand what the options are. You can see what the benefits and risks of each option are, to help reach the right decision for the person in front of you. This has great potential for improving individuals' healthcare experiences, such as helping patients feel involved and listened to, and giving them a say in what happens to them. Getting patients engaged can bring added benefits. When patients are engaged and follow their treatment plans, their health outcomes improve and resources tend to be used more effectively.

In the real world, finance, resources and time are all scarce. Although shared decision making is mentioned in key policy documents, such as the NHS Constitution 2015, it has no incentives and is not promoted systematically at national, regional, or organisational levels. We still need to foster cultural change among clinicians and patients, and this is a huge challenge.

We currently have advice for the following conditions and medical choices:

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