Decision aids to facilitate decision making around behavior change in the field of health promotion

A scoping review


Objective To broadly synthesize literature regarding decision aids (DAs) supporting decision making about diet, physical activity, sleeping and substance use a scoping review was performed.

Methods Multiple sources were used: (1) Scientific literature searches, (2) excluded references from a Cochrane review regarding DAs for treatments and screenings, and (3) results from additional searches. Interventions had to (1) support informed decision making and (2) provide information and help to choose between at least two options. Two researchers screened titles and abstracts. Relevant information was extracted descriptively.

Results Thirty-five scientific articles and four DAs (grey literature) were included. Results were heterogeneous. Twenty-nine (94%) studies described substance use DAs. All DAs offered information and value and/or preference clarification. Many other elements were included (e.g., goal-setting). DA’s effects were mixed. Few studies used standardized measures, e.g., decisional conflict (n = 4, 13%). Some positive behavioral effects were reported: e.g., smoking abstinence (n = 1).

Conclusions This research shows only some positive behavioral effects of DAs. However, studies reported heterogeneous results/outcomes, impeding knowledge synthesis. Areas of improvement were identified, e.g., establishing which intervention elements are effective regarding health behavior decision making.

Practice implications DAs can potentially be beneficial in supporting people to change health behaviors – especially regarding smoking.

Patient Education and Counseling
Thomas Gültzow
Thomas Gültzow
Assistant Professor Societal Transition & Behaviour Change

I am a passionate researcher in the field of behaviour and decision making, specialising in informed decision making, behaviour change, and the influence of digital communication and interventions.