Patients are expected to assume increased responsibility for self-management in health care. However, little attention has been directed to the problem of preparing individuals to play a more active role in the physician-patient relationship. Preparatory education about prostate cancer early detection and treatment is needed to enable patients to recognize the importance of their role in medical decision-making, voice personal values and preferences related to health care choices, and make informed choices under conditions of uncertainty about possible outcomes. Effective decision aids are needed to facilitate shared decision-making in the context of the physician-patient relationship along the continuum of prostate cancer care. Decision aids for patients have taken the form of informational booklets, scripted telephone counseling, decision boards, educational videotapes, interactive videodiscs, computer programs, and Internet Web sites. The impact of preparatory education and the use of decision aids should be evaluated in terms of change in knowledge and understanding, shifts in decision preferences, health care utilization, and satisfaction with care. The need for this type of patient interaction will grow as technology increases patient access to health care information.