Balance Sheets Versus Decision Dashboards to Support Patient Treatment Choices: A Comparative Analysis

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Growing recognition of the importance of involving patients in preference-driven healthcare decisions has highlighted the need to develop practical strategies to implement patient-centered shared decision-making. The use of tabular balance sheets to support clinical decision-making is well established. More recent evidence suggests that graphic, interactive decision dashboards can help people derive deeper a understanding of information within a specific decision context. We therefore conducted a non-randomized trial comparing the effects of adding an interactive dashboard to a static tabular balance sheet on patient decision-making.


The study population consisted of members of the ResearchMatch registry who volunteered to participate in a study of medical decision-making. Two separate surveys were conducted: one in the control group and one in the intervention group. All participants were instructed to imagine they were newly diagnosed with a chronic illness and were asked to choose between three hypothetical drug treatments, which varied with regard to effectiveness, side effects, and out-of-pocket cost. Both groups made an initial treatment choice after reviewing a balance sheet. After a brief “washout” period, members of the control group made a second treatment choice after reviewing the balance sheet again, while intervention group members made a second treatment choice after reviewing an interactive decision dashboard containing the same information. After both choices, participants rated their degree of confidence in their choice on a 1 to 10 scale.


Members of the dashboard intervention group were more likely to change their choice of preferred drug (10.2 versus 7.5 %; p = 0.054) and had a larger increase in decision confidence than the control group (0.67 versus 0.075; p < 0.03). There were no statistically significant between-group differences in decisional conflict or decision aid acceptability.


These findings suggest that clinical decision dashboards may be an effective point-of-care decision-support tool. Further research to explore this possibility is warranted.

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