Clinical practice guidelines and patient decision aids. An inevitable relationship

J Clin Epidemiol. 2012 Jun;65(6):584-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.10.007. Epub 2012 Jan 31.


As health professionals and patients are moving toward shared models of decision making, there is a growing need for integrated decision support tools that facilitate uptake of best evidence in routine clinical practice in a patient-centered manner. This article charts the landscape of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) and patient decision aids. Decision support tools for medical practice can be mapped on two dimensions. (1) The target user and his or her level of decision making; either for groups of patients or for an individual patient and (2) the level of uncertainty: either supporting more directive decision making (behavior support) in the case of strong recommendations with a single best option or supporting dialog (deliberation support) on the pros and cons of different options in the case of conditional (or weak) recommendations. We conclude that it is important to establish closer links between CPGs and patient decision aids, through collaborative development of both. Such collaboration will encourage the design of decision support tools for professionals and patients who share the same evidence and the aim to increase the quality of decision making between doctor and patient. This could facilitate the implementation of CPGs and shared decision making in clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Participation*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*