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Advancing the science of patient decision aids through reporting guidelines
  1. Robert J Volk1,
  2. Angela Coulter2
  1. 1 Department of Health Services Research, Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA
  2. 2 Health Services Research Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Robert J Volk, Department of Health Services Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA; bvolk{at}

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Patient decision aids (PDAs) are tools designed to help people make deliberative choices about their healthcare options using the best available evidence. They provide balanced information about treatment choices and help patients construct, clarify and communicate what is important to them in making healthcare choices. PDAs can prepare patients to make informed, values-based decisions with their healthcare providers.1–3 The evidence base on PDAs has grown rapidly over the past two decades. The most recent update to the Cochrane systematic review of PDAs included 105 randomised controlled trials published through April 2015.2 This number excludes trials comparing complex to simpler PDAs and other evaluations of PDAs using non-randomised designs. People who use decision aids improve their knowledge of the options, report feeling clearer and better informed about the options, have more accurate expectations about benefits and harms of options, and participate more in decision-making compared with people who don’t use decision aids.2

Founded in 2003, the International Patient Decision Aid Standards (IPDAS) Collaboration is a multidisciplinary group of researchers, clinicians and other stakeholders from around the world who share an interest in the development and use of PDAs. A description of the IPDAS history, its membership and activities can be found at the IPDAS website ( It is a voluntary organisation that receives no centralised financial support for its efforts. The Collaboration was established in response to concerns about the rapid increase in the number of PDAs of unknown quality that were being developed by different individuals and groups around the world. The Collaboration prioritised the need for a set of standard criteria to guide the quality appraisal of PDAs. The purpose of IPDAS is to enhance the quality and effectiveness of PDAs by establishing a common evidence framework for the content, development, implementation and evaluation of PDAs.

The Collaboration’s initial …

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