Purpose: To examine variations in physicians' opinions about the appropriateness and content of decision aids for women with breast cancer and criteria for their evaluation.
Methods: Cross-sectional survey of all 144 Ontario oncologists by Dillman's mailed survey design. The response rate was 87%.
Results: The predominant current practice pattern was to spontaneously inform patients about the treatment recommendations, degree of certainty regarding the recommendations, treatment regime, benefits and side effects. Most respondents (94%) endorsed patient decision aids, particularly when there was high uncertainty about providing adjuvant treatment. Over three-quarters endorsed measuring the following outcomes of decision aids: patients' clarity of trade-offs involved (e.g. survival vs. side effects); comprehension of treatment alternatives, risks and benefits; accuracy of expectations; decision satisfaction; anxiety; commitment to the decision; length of time to complete the decision aid; and decision uncertainty. The least support was for the use of the decision itself as an outcome measure.
Conclusions: There is considerable consensus regarding the indications for, content and criteria for evaluating decision aids which should be considered when developing aids relevant to the needs of clinicians and patients.