The decision aid is the easy part: workflow challenges of shared decision making in cancer care

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2023 Nov 8;115(11):1271-1277. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djad133.


Delivering high-quality, patient-centered cancer care remains a challenge. Both the National Academy of Medicine and the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommend shared decision making to improve patient-centered care, but widespread adoption of shared decision making into clinical care has been limited. Shared decision making is a process in which a patient and the patient's health-care professional weigh the risks and benefits of different options and come to a joint decision on the best course of action for that patient on the basis of their values, preferences, and goals for care. Patients who engage in shared decision making report higher quality of care, whereas patients who are less involved in these decisions have statistically significantly higher decisional regret and are less satisfied. Decision aids can improve shared decision making-for example, by eliciting patient values and preferences that can then be shared with clinicians and by providing patients with information that may influence their decisions. However, integrating decision aids into the workflows of routine care is challenging. In this commentary, we explore 3 workflow-related barriers to shared decision making: the who, when, and how of decision aid implementation in clinical practice. We introduce readers to human factors engineering and demonstrate its potential value to decision aid design through a case study of breast cancer surgical treatment decision making. By better employing the methods and principles of human factors engineering, we can improve decision aid integration, shared decision making, and ultimately patient-centered cancer outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms*
  • Decision Making
  • Decision Making, Shared*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Workflow