by Amyn Amlani, PhD
Shared-decision making is a core component of evidence-based health care, allowing for evidence to guide decisions about the treatment intervention of that individual patient while considering their needs, values, and preferences. In hearing care, providers are skilled at diagnosing hearing sensitivity but are less effectively in assessing whether the treatment they recommend aligns with the values and preferences of the patient receiving the treatment recommendation.1-4
Decision aids are one means to help ensure that care is value-based to the patient while reducing unwanted treatment interventions.
What is a Decision Aid?
Decision aids are evidence-based, educational tools—such as (i) educational booklets with graphics and diagrams, (ii) videos, (iii) interactive Web-based tools that deliver sequential questions with feedback or structured personal coaching—that supply patients with unbiased information about the treatment options and outcomes, and by clarifying personal values.
Decision aids are designed to complement, rather than replace, counseling from the provider. A few examples of decision aids in health care, including hearing, are provided below:
- Hearing Loss: Should I Get Hearing Aids? (Healthwise – Interactive Web Tool)
- Cancer, Fertility, & Me (Leeds Beckett University – Online Booklet)
- Cardiovascular (HealthDecision – Interactive Web Tool)
- Colon Cancer Screening (Colorado Program for Patient-Centered Decisions – Online Video)
How Do Decision Aids Compare to Health Education Materials?
Health education materials—which include fact sheets, infographics, brochures, and videos—tend to provide broad background information, but fail to clarify the personal value associated with different features offered by the treatment interventions being evaluated.
Examples of health education materials can be found at:
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
How Can Decision Aids Be Applied Effectively in Hearing Care?
Evidence indicates that decision aids estimate the benefits and risks of treatment options sufficiently for patients.5 In the coming months, readers will be provided with a more in-depth review of how decision aids could be utilized effectively in hearing care to enhance compliance to treatment recommendations, reduce barriers to adoption, and promote awareness and prevention.
- Ekberg K, Grenness C, Hickson L. (2014). Addressing patients’ psychosocial concerns regarding hearing aids within audiology appointment for older adults. Am J Audiol 23(3):337-350.
- Grenness C, Hickson L, Laplante-Lévesque A, et al. (2015). The nature of communication throughout diagnosis and management planning in initial audiologic rehabilitation consultations. J Am Acad Audiol 26(1):36-50.
- Ekberg K, Barr C, Hickson L. (2017). Difficult conversations: Talking about cost in audiology consultations with older adults. Int J Audiol 56(11):854-861.
- Amlani AM. (2020). Influence of provider interaction on patient’s need recognition towards audiological services and technology. J Am Acad Audiol 31(5):342-353.
- Boyle PA, Yu L, Buchman AS, Bennett DA. (2012). Risk aversion is associated with decision making among community-based older persons. Front Psych 28:205. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00205