Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making


Geisel School of Medicine


Background: In 2005, the International Patient Decision Aids Standards Collaboration identified twelve quality dimensions to guide assessment of patient decision aids. One dimension — the delivery of patient decision aids on the Internet — is relevant when the Internet is used to provide some or all components of a patient decision aid. Building on the original background chapter, this paper provides an updated definition for this dimension, outlines a theoretical rationale, describes current evidence, and discusses emerging research areas. Methods: An international, multidisciplinary panel of authors examined the relevant theoretical literature and empirical evidence through 2012. Results: The updated definition distinguishes Internet-delivery of patient decision aids from online health information and clinical practice guidelines. Theories in cognitive psychology, decision psychology, communication, and education support the value of Internet features for providing interactive information and deliberative support. Dissemination and implementation theories support Internet-delivery for providing the right information (rapidly updated), to the right person (tailored), at the right time (the appropriate point in the decision making process). Additional efforts are needed to integrate the theoretical rationale and empirical evidence from health technology perspectives, such as consumer health informatics, user experience design, and human-computer interaction. Despite Internet usage ranging from 74% to 85% in developed countries and 80% of users searching for health information, it is unknown how many individuals specifically seek patient decision aids on the Internet. Among the 86 randomized controlled trials in the 2011 Cochrane Collaboration ’ s review of patient decision aids, only four studies focused on Internet-delivery. Given the limited number of published studies, this paper particularly focused on identifying gaps in the empirical evidence base and identifying emerging areas of research. Conclusions: As of 2012, the updated theoretical rationale and emerging evidence suggest potential benefits to delivering patient decision aids on the Internet. However, additional research is needed to identify best practices and quality metrics for Internet-based development, evaluation, and dissemination, particularly in the areas of interactivity, multimedia components, socially-generated information, and implementation strategies.



Original Citation

Hoffman AS, Volk RJ, Saarimaki A, Stirling C, Li LC, Härter M, Kamath GR, Llewellyn-Thomas H. Delivering patient decision aids on the Internet: definitions, theories, current evidence, and emerging research areas. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2013;13 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S13. doi: 10.1186/1472-6947-13-S2-S13. Epub 2013 Nov 29. PMID: 24625064; PMCID: PMC4043476.

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