Assessing the quality and communicative aspects of patient decision aids for early-stage breast cancer treatment: a systematic review

Ruben Vromans, Kim Tenfelde, Steffen Pauws, Mies van Eenbergen, Ingeborg Mares-Engelberts, Galina Velikova, L.V. van de Poll-Franse, Emiel Krahmer

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Decision aids (DAs) support patients in shared decision-making by providing balanced evidence-based treatment information and eliciting patients’ preferences. The purpose of this systematic review was to assess the quality and communicative aspects of DAs for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

Twenty-one currently available patient DAs were identified through both published literature (MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, CENTRAL, and PsycINFO) and online sources. The DAs were reviewed for their quality by using the International Patient Decision Aid Standards (IPDAS) checklist, and subsequently assessed to what extent they paid attention to various communicative aspects, including (i) information presentation, (ii) personalization, (iii) interaction, (iv) information control, (v) accessibility, (vi) suitability, and (vii) source of information.

The quality of the DAs varied substantially, with many failing to comply with all components of the IPDAS criteria (mean IPDAS score = 64%, range 31–92%). Five aids (24%) did not include any probability information, 10 (48%) presented multimodal descriptions of outcome probabilities (combining words, numbers, and visual aids), and only 2 (10%) provided personalized treatment outcomes based on patients and tumor characteristics. About half (12; 57%) used interaction methods for eliciting patients’ preferences, 16 (76%) were too lengthy, and 5 (24%) were not fully accessible.

In addition to the limited adherence to the IPDAS checklist, our findings suggest that communicative aspects receive even less attention. Future patient DA developments for breast cancer treatment should include communicative aspects that could influence the uptake of DAs in daily clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Breast cancer
  • Decision aids
  • Shared decision-making
  • Risk communication
  • Patient education
  • Treatment decision-making
  • Decision support techniques


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