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1.  Feasibility of a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of decision boxes on shared decision-making processes 
Decision boxes (DBoxes) are two-page evidence summaries to prepare clinicians for shared decision making (SDM). We sought to assess the feasibility of a clustered Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to evaluate their impact.
A convenience sample of clinicians (nurses, physicians and residents) from six primary healthcare clinics who received eight DBoxes and rated their interest in the topic and satisfaction. After consultations, their patients rated their involvement in decision-making processes (SDM-Q-9 instrument). We measured clinic and clinician recruitment rates, questionnaire completion rates, patient eligibility rates, and estimated the RCT needed sample size.
Among the 20 family medicine clinics invited to participate in this study, four agreed to participate, giving an overall recruitment rate of 20%. Of 148 clinicians invited to the study, 93 participated (63%). Clinicians rated an interest in the topics ranging 6.4-8.2 out of 10 (with 10 highest) and a satisfaction with DBoxes of 4 or 5 out of 5 (with 5 highest) for 81% DBoxes. For the future RCT, we estimated that a sample size of 320 patients would allow detecting a 9% mean difference in the SDM-Q-9 ratings between our two arms (0.02 ICC; 0.05 significance level; 80% power).
Clinicians’ recruitment and questionnaire completion rates support the feasibility of the planned RCT. The level of interest of participants for the DBox topics, and their level of satisfaction with the Dboxes demonstrate the acceptability of the intervention. Processes to recruit clinics and patients should be optimized.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12911-015-0134-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4350632  PMID: 25880757
Evidence-based practice; Continuing professional education; Shared decision making; Risk communication; Patient-centered care; Counseling; Clinical topic summary; Decision support; Knowledge translation
2.  Evidence summaries (decision boxes) to prepare clinicians for shared decision-making with patients: a mixed methods implementation study 
Decision boxes (Dboxes) provide clinicians with research evidence about management options for medical questions that have no single best answer. Dboxes fulfil a need for rapid clinical training tools to prepare clinicians for clinician-patient communication and shared decision-making. We studied the barriers and facilitators to using the Dbox information in clinical practice.
We used a mixed methods study with sequential explanatory design. We recruited family physicians, residents, and nurses from six primary health-care clinics. Participants received eight Dboxes covering various questions by email (one per week). For each Dbox, they completed a web questionnaire to rate clinical relevance and cognitive impact and to assess the determinants of their intention to use what they learned from the Dbox to explain to their patients the advantages and disadvantages of the options, based on the theory of planned behaviour (TPB). Following the 8-week delivery period, we conducted focus groups with clinicians and interviews with clinic administrators to explore contextual factors influencing the use of the Dbox information.
One hundred clinicians completed the web surveys. In 54% of the 496 questionnaires completed, they reported that their practice would be improved after having read the Dboxes, and in 40%, they stated that they would use this information for their patients. Of those who would use the information for their patients, 89% expected it would benefit their patients, especially in that it would allow the patient to make a decision more in keeping with his/her personal circumstances, values, and preferences. They intended to use the Dboxes in practice (mean 5.6 ± 1.2, scale 1–7, with 7 being “high”), and their intention was significantly related to social norm, perceived behavioural control, and attitude according to the TPB (P < 0.0001). In focus groups, clinicians mentioned that co-interventions such as patient decision aids and training in shared decision-making would facilitate the use of the Dbox information. Some participants would have liked a clear “bottom line” statement for each Dbox and access to printed Dboxes in consultation rooms.
Dboxes are valued by clinicians. Tailoring of Dboxes to their needs would facilitate their implementation in practice.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0144-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4201673  PMID: 25280742
Clinical practice guidelines; Knowledge translation; Decision support; Evidence-based practice; Barriers; Patient-centred care; User experience; Continuing professional development; Communication competency
7.  Decision making in family medicine 
Canadian Family Physician  2013;59(10):1084-1094.
To compare the ability of users of 2 medical search engines, InfoClinique and the Trip database, to provide correct answers to clinical questions and to explore the perceived effects of the tools on the clinical decision-making process.
Randomized trial.
Three family medicine units of the family medicine program of the Faculty of Medicine at Laval University in Quebec city, Que.
Fifteen second-year family medicine residents.
Residents generated 30 structured questions about therapy or preventive treatment (2 questions per resident) based on clinical encounters. Using an Internet platform designed for the trial, each resident answered 20 of these questions (their own 2, plus 18 of the questions formulated by other residents, selected randomly) before and after searching for information with 1 of the 2 search engines. For each question, 5 residents were randomly assigned to begin their search with InfoClinique and 5 with the Trip database.
Main outcome measures
The ability of residents to provide correct answers to clinical questions using the search engines, as determined by third-party evaluation. After answering each question, participants completed a questionnaire to assess their perception of the engine’s effect on the decision-making process in clinical practice.
Of 300 possible pairs of answers (1 answer before and 1 after the initial search), 254 (85%) were produced by 14 residents. Of these, 132 (52%) and 122 (48%) pairs of answers concerned questions that had been assigned an initial search with InfoClinique and the Trip database, respectively. Both engines produced an important and similar absolute increase in the proportion of correct answers after searching (26% to 62% for InfoClinique, for an increase of 36%; 24% to 63% for the Trip database, for an increase of 39%; P = .68). For all 30 clinical questions, at least 1 resident produced the correct answer after searching with either search engine. The mean (SD) time of the initial search for each question was 23.5 (7.6) minutes with InfoClinique and 22.3 (7.8) minutes with the Trip database (P = .30). Participants’ perceptions of each engine’s effect on the decision-making process were very positive and similar for both search engines.
Family medicine residents’ ability to provide correct answers to clinical questions increased dramatically and similarly with the use of both InfoClinique and the Trip database. These tools have strong potential to increase the quality of medical care.
PMCID: PMC3796978  PMID: 24130286
8.  Training family physicians in shared decision-making to reduce the overuse of antibiotics in acute respiratory infections: a cluster randomized trial 
Few interventions have proven effective in reducing the overuse of antibiotics for acute respiratory infections. We evaluated the effect of DECISION+2, a shared decision-making training program, on the percentage of patients who decided to take antibiotics after consultation with a physician or resident.
We performed a randomized trial, clustered at the level of family practice teaching unit, with 2 study arms: DECISION+2 and control. The DECISION+2 training program included a 2-hour online tutorial followed by a 2-hour interactive seminar about shared decision-making. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who decided to use antibiotics immediately after consultation. We also recorded patients’ perception that shared decision-making had occurred. Two weeks after the initial consultation, we assessed patients’ adherence to the decision, repeat consultation, decisional regret and quality of life.
We compared outcomes among 181 patients who consulted 77 physicians in 5 family practice teaching units in the DECISION+2 group, and 178 patients who consulted 72 physicians in 4 family practice teaching units in the control group. The percentage of patients who decided to use antibiotics after consultation was 52.2% in the control group and 27.2% in the DECISION+2 group (absolute difference 25.0%, adjusted relative risk 0.48, 95% confidence interval 0.34–0.68). DECISION+2 was associated with patients taking a more active role in decision-making (Z = 3.9, p < 0.001). Patient outcomes 2 weeks after consultation were similar in both groups.
The shared decision-making program DECISION+2 enhanced patient participation in decision-making and led to fewer patients deciding to use antibiotics for acute respiratory infections. This reduction did not have a negative effect on patient outcomes 2 weeks after consultation. trial register no. NCT01116076.
PMCID: PMC3447039  PMID: 22847969
9.  Barriers and facilitators to implementing Decision Boxes in primary healthcare teams to facilitate shared decisionmaking: a study protocol 
Decision Boxes are summaries of the most important benefits and harms of health interventions provided to clinicians before they meet the patient, to prepare them to help patients make informed and value-based decisions. Our objective is to explore the barriers and facilitators to using Decision Boxes in clinical practice, more precisely factors stemming from (1) the Decision Boxes themselves, (2) the primary healthcare team (PHT), and (3) the primary care practice environment.
A two-phase mixed methods study will be conducted. Eight Decision Boxes relevant to primary care, and written in both English and in French, will be hosted on a website together with a tutorial to introduce the Decision Box. The Decision Boxes will be delivered as weekly emails over a span of eight weeks to clinicians of PHTs (family physicians, residents and nurses) in five primary care clinics located across two Canadian provinces. Using a web-questionnaire, clinicians will rate each Decision Box with the Information Assessment Method (cognitive impacts, relevance, usefulness, expected benefits) and with a questionnaire based on the Theory of Planned Behavior to study the determinants of clinicians’ intention to use what they learned from that Decision Box in their patient encounter (attitude, social norm, perceived behavioral control). Web-log data will be used to monitor clinicians’ access to the website. Following the 8-week intervention, we will conduct semi-structured group interviews with clinicians and individual interviews with clinic administrators to explore contextual factors influencing the use of the Decision Boxes. Data collected from questionnaires, focus groups and individual interviews will be combined to identify factors potentially influencing implementation of Decision Boxes in clinical practice by clinicians of PHTs.
This project will allow tailoring of Decision Boxes and their delivery to overcome the specific barriers identified by clinicians of PHTs to improve the implementation of shared decision making in this setting.
PMCID: PMC3472191  PMID: 22867107
(3–10); Evidence-based practice; Continuing professional education; Risk communication; Patient-centered care; Counselling; Clinical topic summary; Decision support; Knowledge translation; Implementation science
10.  Decision boxes for clinicians to support evidence-based practice and shared decision making: the user experience 
This project engages patients and physicians in the development of Decision Boxes, short clinical topic summaries covering medical questions that have no single best answer. Decision Boxes aim to prepare the clinician to communicate the risks and benefits of the available options to the patient so they can make an informed decision together.
Seven researchers (including four practicing family physicians) selected 10 clinical topics relevant to primary care practice through a Delphi survey. We then developed two one-page prototypes on two of these topics: prostate cancer screening with the prostate-specific antigen test, and prenatal screening for trisomy 21 with the serum integrated test. We presented the prototypes to purposeful samples of family physicians distributed in two focus groups, and patients distributed in four focus groups. We used the User Experience Honeycomb to explore barriers and facilitators to the communication design used in Decision Boxes. All discussions were transcribed, and three researchers proceeded to thematic content analysis of the transcriptions. The coding scheme was first developed from the Honeycomb’s seven themes (valuable, usable, credible, useful, desirable, accessible, and findable), and included new themes suggested by the data. Prototypes were modified in light of our findings.
Three rounds were necessary for a majority of researchers to select 10 clinical topics. Fifteen physicians and 33 patients participated in the focus groups. Following analyses, three sections were added to the Decision Boxes: introduction, patient counseling, and references. The information was spread to two pages to try to make the Decision Boxes less busy and improve users’ first impression. To try to improve credibility, we gave more visibility to the research institutions involved in development. A statement on the boxes’ purpose and a flow chart representing the shared decision-making process were added with the intent of clarifying the tool’s purpose. Information about the risks and benefits according to risk levels was added to the Decision Boxes, to try to ease the adaptation of the information to individual patients.
Results will guide the development of the eight remaining Decision Boxes. A future study will evaluate the effect of Decision Boxes on the integration of evidence-based and shared decision making principles in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3533695  PMID: 22862935
Evidence-based medicine; User experience; Risk communication; Usability; Patient-centered care; Counselling; Clinical topic summary; Decision support; Knowledge translation; Communication design
11.  Developing and user-testing Decision boxes to facilitate shared decision making in primary care - a study protocol 
Applying evidence is one of the most challenging steps of evidence-based clinical practice. Healthcare professionals have difficulty interpreting evidence and translating it to patients. Decision boxes are summaries of the most important benefits and harms of diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive health interventions provided to healthcare professionals before they meet the patient. Our hypothesis is that Decision boxes will prepare clinicians to help patients make informed value-based decisions. By acting as primers, the boxes will enhance the application of evidence-based practices and increase shared decision making during the clinical encounter. The objectives of this study are to provide a framework for developing Decision boxes and testing their value to users.
We will begin by developing Decision box prototypes for 10 clinical conditions or topics based on a review of the research on risk communication. We will present two prototypes to purposeful samples of 16 family physicians distributed in two focus groups, and 32 patients distributed in four focus groups. We will use the User Experience Model framework to explore users' perceptions of the content and format of each prototype. All discussions will be transcribed, and two researchers will independently perform a hybrid deductive/inductive thematic qualitative analysis of the data. The coding scheme will be developed a priori from the User Experience Model's seven themes (valuable, usable, credible, useful, desirable, accessible and findable), and will include new themes suggested by the data (inductive analysis). Key findings will be triangulated using additional publications on the design of tools to improve risk communication. All 10 Decision boxes will be modified in light of our findings.
This study will produce a robust framework for developing and testing Decision boxes that will serve healthcare professionals and patients alike. It is the first step in the development and implementation of a new tool that should facilitate decision making in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3060840  PMID: 21385470
12.  Training family physicians and residents in family medicine in shared decision making to improve clinical decisions regarding the use of antibiotics for acute respiratory infections: protocol for a clustered randomized controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:3.
To explore ways to reduce the overuse of antibiotics for acute respiratory infections (ARIs), we conducted a pilot clustered randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate DECISION+, a training program in shared decision making (SDM) for family physicians (FPs). This pilot project demonstrated the feasibility of conducting a large clustered RCT and showed that DECISION+ reduced the proportion of patients who decided to use antibiotics immediately after consulting their physician. Consequently, the objective of this study is to evaluate, in patients consulting for ARIs, if exposure of physicians to a modified version of DECISION+, DECISION+2, would reduce the proportion of patients who decide to use antibiotics immediately after consulting their physician.
The study is a multi-center, two-arm, parallel clustered RCT. The 12 family practice teaching units (FPTUs) in the network of the Department of Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine of Université Laval will be randomized to a DECISION+2 intervention group (experimental group) or to a no-intervention control group. These FPTUs will recruit patients consulting family physicians and residents in family medicine enrolled in the study. There will be two data collection periods: pre-intervention (baseline) including 175 patients with ARIs in each study arm, and post-intervention including 175 patients with ARIs in each study arm (total n = 700). The primary outcome will be the proportion of patients reporting a decision to use antibiotics immediately after consulting their physician. Secondary outcome measures include: 1) physicians and patients' decisional conflict; 2) the agreement between the parties' decisional conflict scores; and 3) perception of patients and physicians that SDM occurred. Also in patients, at 2 weeks follow-up, adherence to the decision, consultation for the same reason, decisional regret, and quality of life will be assessed. Finally, in both patients and physicians, intention to engage in SDM in future clinical encounters will be assessed. Intention-to-treat analyses will be applied and account for the nested design of the trial will be taken into consideration.
DECISION+2 has the potential to reduce antibiotics use for ARIs by priming physicians and patients to share decisional process and empowering patients to make informed, value-based decisions.
Trial Registration NCT01116076
PMCID: PMC3041682  PMID: 21269509
17.  Supporting patients facing difficult health care decisions 
Canadian Family Physician  2006;52(4):476-477.
To investigate family physicians’ views on factors that make health care decisions difficult for patients, interventions family physicians use to support patients making decisions, and interventions proposed by the Ottawa Decision Support Framework (ODSF).
Thirteen group discussions.
Five family practice units.
One hundred twenty family physicians.
The multifaceted implementation intervention consisted of feedback from participants, a reminder at point of care, and an interactive workshop. During the workshop, family physicians were asked about their views on 2 videos both showing the concluding phase of a simulated clinical encounter with a woman facing a decision about hormone therapy. One video showed usual care; the other showed use of the ODSF process and related tools. Content was analyzed using observations by non-participants, field notes, material collected from participants during workshops, evaluation forms completed at the end of workshops, and comments written on exit questionnaires from the implementation trial.
Family physicians’ views on the types of difficult decisions their patients face, the factors that make decisions difficult for patients, the interventions family physicians use to support patients’ decisions, and the interventions proposed by the ODSF.
The 2 most frequently cited factors making decisions difficult for patients were experiencing uncertainty and fears about adverse outcomes. Before being introduced to the ODSF, participants had used mostly information-related strategies to provide decision support. After learning about the ODSF, participants overwhelmingly identified assessing patients’ values as a priority. At the end of the workshop, the 5 changes in practice participants most frequently intended to make were, in order of importance, to assess patients’ values, to ask about patients’ preferred role in decision making, to screen for decisional conflict, to assess support or undue pressure on patients, and to increase patients’ involvement in decision making.
The ODSF process and related tools have the potential to broaden family physicians’ views on supporting patients facing difficult decisions.
PMCID: PMC1481680  PMID: 17327891

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