Trials of Decision Aids for Prostate Cancer Screening

A Systematic Review


      Patient decision aids are used to promote informed decision making. This review examines the methods and findings of studies that have evaluated the impact of prostate cancer screening decision aids on patient outcomes.


      MEDLINE, the Cochrane Registry, reference lists, and abstracts from professional meetings were searched through December 2006. Search terms included prostate cancer screening and decision making. Studies were included if a patient education intervention for prostate cancer screening had been evaluated against a control condition.


      Eighteen eligible trials, involving 6221 participants, were identified. Sixteen studies enrolled primary care patients, while the remaining two studies were community-based. All the prostate cancer screening decision aids were in English, with varied reading levels. Consistent with previous reviews, the patient decision aids improved patient knowledge and made patients more confident about their decisions. The aids appeared to decrease interest in prostate-specific antigen testing and screening behavior among patients seeking routine care (relative risk [RR]=0.88, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.81–0.97, p=0.008); the aids had no impact on the screening behavior of patients seeking screening services. Additionally, patients who received patient decision aids were more likely to prefer watchful waiting as a treatment option if they were found to have prostate cancer than were controls (RR=1.53, 95% CI=1.31–1.77, p<0.001).


      Prostate cancer screening decision aids enhance patient knowledge, decrease decisional conflict, and promote greater involvement in decision making. The absence of outcome measures that reflect all elements of informed decision making continues to limit the field.
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