How to use patient decision aids

Date Reviewed:


This paper briefly describes the stages in using a patient decision aid in a consultation and advice on how to present statistics relating to risk.

The five steps it sets out to using a patient decision aid are:

  • Describe the clinical condition (e.g. atrial fibrillation) 
  • Describe the treatment options (e.g. no treatment, aspirin, or warfarin) and outline the dilemma (all have risks and benefits, and different patients view the risks differently) 
  • Offer a further, more detailed discussion. Some patients are content with the healthcare professional deciding, some prefer a joint decision, others wish the healthcare professional to provide the information but wish to make the decision themselves 
  • Work through the PDA, explaining the images and adjusting for baseline risk if required 
  • Allow the patient time to consider what they wish to do. They may wish to take away a copy of the PDA and discuss it with family or friends

It includes helpful advice on how to present data so that the patient has a balanced view of the potential benefits and harms.  This includes a chart and form of words.

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