Toward a model for field-testing patient decision-support technologies: a qualitative field-testing study

J Med Internet Res. 2007 Jul 13;9(3):e21. doi: 10.2196/jmir.9.3.e21.


Background: Field-testing is a quality assurance criterion in the development of patient decision-support technologies (PDSTs), as identified in the consensus statement of the International Patient Decision Aids Standards Collaboration. We incorporated field-testing into the development of a Web-based, prostate-specific antigen PDST called Prosdex, which was commissioned as part of the UK Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to develop a model for the future field-testing of PDSTs, based on the field-testing of Prosdex. Our objectives were (1) to explore the reactions of men to evolving prototypes of Prosdex, (2) to assess the effect of these responses on the development process, and (3) to develop a model for field-testing PDSTs based on the responses and their effect on the development process.

Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with the men after they had viewed evolving prototypes of Prosdex in their homes. The men were grouped according to the prototype viewed. Men between 40 and 75 years of age were recruited from two family practices in different parts of Wales, United Kingdom. In the interviews, the men were asked for their views on Prosdex, both as a whole and in relation to specific sections such as the introduction and video clips. Comments and technical issues that arose during the viewings were noted and fed back to the developers in order to produce subsequent prototypes.

Results: A total of 27 men were interviewed, in five groups, according to the five prototypes of Prosdex that were developed. The two main themes from the interviews were the responses to the information provided in Prosdex and the responses to specific features of Prosdex. Within these themes, two of the most frequently encountered categories were detail of the information provided and balance between contrasting viewpoints. Criticisms were encountered, particularly with respect to navigation of the site. In addition, we found that participants made little use of the decision-making scale. The introduction of an interactive contents page to prototype 2 was the main change made to Prosdex as a result of the field-testing. Based on our findings, a model for the field-testing of PDSTs was developed, involving an exploratory field-testing stage between the planning stage and the development of the first prototype, and followed by the prototype field-testing stage, leading to the final PDST.

Conclusions: In the field-testing of Prosdex, a Web-based prostate-specific antigen PDST, the responses of interviewed men were generally favorable. As a consequence of the responses, an interactive contents page was added to the site. We developed a model for the future field-testing of PDSTs, involving two stages: exploratory field-testing and prototype field-testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Patient Participation / methods*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • United Kingdom