An exploration of decision aid effectiveness: The impact of promoting affective vs. deliberative processing on a health-related decision
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Background: Decision aids (DAs) are non-directive communication tools that help patients make value-consistent health-care decisions. However, most DAs have been developed without an explicit theoretical framework, resulting in a lack of understanding of how DAs achieve outcomes. Objective: To investigate the effect of promoting affective vs. deliberative processing on DA effectiveness based on dual-process theory. Design, setting and participants: One hundred and forty-eight female university students participated in a randomized controlled experiment with three conditions: emotion-focused, information-focused and control. Preference-value consistency, knowledge, decisional conflict and satisfaction were compared across the conditions using planned contrast analyses. Intervention: The intervention comprised two different DAs and instructional manipulations. The emotion-focused condition received a modified DA with affective content and instructions to induce an affective reaction. The information-focused and control conditions received the same DA without the affective content. The information-focused condition received additional instructions to induce deliberative processing. Results: Controlling for the experiment-wise error rate at P < 0.017, the emotion-focused and information-focused conditions had significantly higher decisional satisfaction than the control condition (P < 0.001). The emotion-focused condition did not demonstrate preference-value consistency. There were no significant differences for decisional conflict and knowledge. Discussion: Results suggest that the promotion of affective processing may hinder value-consistent decision making, while deliberative processing may enhance decisional satisfaction. Conclusions: This investigation of the effect of affective and deliberative processes in DA-supported decision making has implications for the design and use of DAs. DA effectiveness may be enhanced by incorporating a simple instruction to focus on the details of the information.
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