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Supporting informed decision making online in 20 minutes: an observational web-log study of a PSA test decision aid

Joseph-Williams, Natalie J. ORCID:, Evans, Rhodri, Edwards, Adrian G. ORCID:, Newcombe, Robert Gordon ORCID:, Wright, Patricia, Grol, Richard and Elwyn, Glyn ORCID: 2010. Supporting informed decision making online in 20 minutes: an observational web-log study of a PSA test decision aid. Journal of Medical Internet Research 12 (2) , e15. 10.2196/jmir.1307

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Background: Web-based decision aids are known to have an effect on knowledge, attitude, and behavior; important components of informed decision making. We know what decision aids achieve in randomized controlled trials (RCTs), but we still know very little about how they are used and how this relates to the informed decision making outcome measures. Objective: To examine men's use of an online decision aid for prostate cancer screening using website transaction log files (web-logs), and to examine associations between usage and components of informed decision making. Methods: We conducted an observational web-log analysis of users of an online decision aid, Prosdex. Men between 50 and 75 years of age were recruited for an associated RCT from 26 general practices across South Wales, United Kingdom. Men allocated to one arm of the RCT were included in the current study. Time and usage data were derived from website log files. Components of informed decision making were measured by an online questionnaire. Results: Available for analysis were 82 web-logs. Overall, there was large variation in the use of Prosdex. The mean total time spent on the site was 20 minutes. The mean number of pages accessed was 32 (SD 21) out of a possible 60 pages. Significant associations were found between increased usage and increased knowledge (Spearman rank correlation [ρ] = 0.69, P < .01), between increased usage and less favorable attitude towards PSA testing (ρ = -0.52, P < .01), and between increased usage and reduced intention to undergo PSA testing (ρ = -0.44, P < .01). A bimodal distribution identified two types of user: low access and high access users. Conclusions: Increased usage of Prosdex leads to more informed decision making, the key aim of the UK Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme. However, developers realistically have roughly 20 minutes to provide useful information that will support informed decision making when the patient uses a web-based interface. Future decision aids need to be developed with this limitation in mind. We recommend that web-log analysis should be an integral part of online decision aid development and analysis. Trial Registration: ISRCTN48473735; (Archived by WebCite at

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: decision aid, informed decision making, internet, prostate cancer, prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, user tracking, web-log, website transaction log file
ISSN: 1439-4456
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2022 14:36

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