Comparative Effectiveness of a Web-Based Patient Decision Aid for Therapeutic Options for Sickle Cell Disease: Randomized Controlled Trial

J Med Internet Res. 2019 Dec 4;21(12):e14462. doi: 10.2196/14462.


Background: Hydroxyurea, chronic blood transfusions, and bone marrow transplantation are efficacious, disease-modifying therapies for sickle cell disease but involve complex risk-benefit trade-offs and decisional dilemma compounded by the lack of comparative studies. A patient decision aid can inform patients about their treatment options, the associated risks and benefits, help them clarify their values, and allow them to participate in medical decision making.

Objective: The objective of this study was to develop a literacy-sensitive Web-based patient decision aid based on the Ottawa decision support framework, and through a randomized clinical trial estimate the effectiveness of the patient decision aid in improving patient knowledge and their involvement in decision making.

Methods: We conducted population decisional needs assessments in a nationwide sample of patients, caregivers, community advocates, policy makers, and health care providers using qualitative interviews to identify decisional conflict, knowledge and expectations, values, support and resources, decision types, timing, stages and learning, and personal clinical characteristics. Interview transcripts were coded using QSR NVivo 10. Alpha testing of the patient decision aid prototype was done to establish usability and the accuracy of the information it conveyed, and then was followed by iterative cycles of beta testing. We conducted a randomized clinical trial of adults and of caregivers of pediatric patients to evaluate the efficacy of the patient decision aid.

Results: In a decisional needs assessment, 223 stakeholders described their preferences, helping to guide the development of the patient decision aid, which then underwent alpha testing by 30 patients and 38 health care providers and iterative cycles of beta testing by 87 stakeholders. In a randomized clinical trial, 120 participants were assigned to either the patient decision aid or standard care (SC) arm. Qualitative interviews revealed high levels of usability, acceptability, and utility of the patient decision aid in education, values clarification, and preparation for decision making. On the acceptability survey, 72% (86/120) of participants rated the patient decision aid as good or excellent. Participants on the patient decision aid arm compared to the SC arm demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in decisional self-efficacy (P=.05) and a reduction in the informed sub-score of decisional conflict (P=.003) at 3 months, with an improvement in preparation for decision making (P<.001) at 6 months. However, there was no improvement in terms of the change in knowledge, the total or other domain scores of decisional conflicts, or decisional self-efficacies at 6 months. The large amount of missing data from survey completion limited our ability to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the patient decision aid. The patient decision aid met 61 of 62 benchmarks of the international patient decision aid collaboration standards for content, development process, and efficacy.

Conclusions: We have developed a patient decision aid for sickle cell disease with extensive input from stakeholders and in a randomized clinical trial demonstrated its acceptability and utility in education and decision making. We were unable to demonstrate its effectiveness in improving patient knowledge and involvement in decision making.

Trial registration: NCT03224429; and NCT02326597;

Keywords: decision aids; decision support; sickle cell anemia; sickle cell disease; sickle cell disorders.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Caregivers*
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Young Adult

Associated data