Interventions to facilitate shared decision-making using decision aids with patients in Primary Health Care: A systematic review

Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Aug 7;99(32):e21389. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000021389.


Background: Shared decision making (SDM) is a process within the physician-patient relationship applicable to any clinical action, whether diagnostic, therapeutic, or preventive in nature. It has been defined as a process of mutual respect and participation between the doctor and the patient. The aim of this study is to determine the effectiveness of decision aids (DA) in primary care based on changes in adherence to treatments, knowledge, and awareness of the disease, conflict with decisions, and patients' and health professionals' satisfaction with the intervention.

Methods: A systematic review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines was conducted in Medline, CINAHL, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and the NHS Economic Evaluation Database. The inclusion criteria were randomized clinical trials as study design; use of SDM with DA as an intervention; primary care as clinical context; written in English, Spanish, and Portuguese; and published between January 2007 and January 2019. The risk of bias of the included studies in this review was assessed according to the Cochrane Collaboration's tool.

Results: Twenty four studies were selected out of the 201 references initially identified. With the use of DA, the use of antibiotics was reduced in cases of acute respiratory infection and decisional conflict was decreased when dealing with the treatment choice for atrial fibrillation and osteoporosis. The rate of determination of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the prostate cancer screening decreased and colorectal cancer screening increased. Both professionals and patients increased their knowledge about depression, type 2 diabetes, and the perception of risk of acute myocardial infarction at 10 years without statins and with statins. The satisfaction was greater with the use of DA in choosing the treatment for depression, in cardiovascular risk management, in the treatment of low back pain, and in the use of statin therapy in diabetes. Blinding of outcomes assessment was the most common bias.

Conclusions: DA used in primary care are effective to reduce decisional conflict and improve knowledge on the disease and treatment options, awareness of risk, and satisfaction with the decisions made. More studies are needed to assess the impact of shared decision making in primary care.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making, Shared*
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care*