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Dr. Annette O Connor


Dr. Annette O'Connor
Research Chair
Ottawa Health Decision Centre
Ottawa Health Research Institute


Every day, millions of patients face “tough” health care decisions with multiple options that have benefits and harms people value differently:

  • Mastectomy or lumpectomy for breast cancer?
  • Surgery or medical treatment for enlarged prostates, chronic back pain, heavy periods?
  • Institutional or home care for a family member with dementia?
  • Drugs or behavioural treatment for attention deficit disorder?
  • Hormones for severe hot flashes and night sweats?
  • End-of-life care for people with advanced lung disease?

Delivering accessible, evidence-based patient decision support using telehealth is becoming an invaluable way to help prepare patients for informed discussion about treatment options in an age when time is limited for in-person patient-physician interactions.

Patient “decision aids” are tools that prepare patients for shared decision making with their health professional. They include up-to-date scientific information, help for clarifying a patient’s personal values, examples of how other patients made similar decisions and guidance in decision making.

Patients using decision aids participate more, know more about alternatives and choose treatments with features they value most. Decision aids also make the best use of health care dollars by reducing the over-use of aggressive, expensive options that many informed patients don’t value.

Decision aids are being made available at no cost to patients over the Internet and used in conjunction with counsel from their physician, or combined with decision support delivered via call centres with qualified nurses.

To learn more and access decision aids, visit www.ohri.ca/decisionaid


 

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