Development of a web-based patient decision aid for initiating disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs using user-centred design methods

Ingrid Nota*, Constance H.C. Drossaert, Heleen C. Melissant, Erik Taal, Harald E. Vonkeman, Cees J. Haagsma, Mart A.F.J. van de Laar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: A main element of patient-centred care, Patient Decision Aids (PtDAs) facilitate shared decision-making (SDM). A recent update of the International Patient Decision Aids Standards (IPDAS) emphasised patient involvement during PtDA development, but omitted a methodology for doing so. This article reports on the value of user-centred design (UCD) methods for the development of a PtDA that aims to support inflammatory arthritis patients in their choice between disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Methods: The IPDAS development process model in combination with UCD methods were applied. The process was overseen by an eight-member multidisciplinary steering group. Patients and health professionals were iteratively consulted. Qualitative in-depth interviews combined with rapid prototyping were conducted with patients to assess their needs for specific functionality, content and design of the PtDA. Group meetings with health professionals were organized to assess patients’ needs and to determine how the PtDA should be integrated into patient pathways. The current literature was reviewed to determine the clinical evidence to include in the PtDA. To evaluate usability among patients, they were observed using the PtDA while thinking aloud and then interviewed.

Results: The combination of patient interviews with rapid prototyping revealed that patients wanted to compare multiple DMARDs both for their clinical aspects and implications for daily life. Health professionals mainly wanted to refer patients to a reliable, easily adjustable source of information about DMARDs. A web-based PtDA was constructed consisting of four parts: 1) general information about SDM, inflammatory arthritis and DMARDs; 2) an application to compare particular DMARDs; 3) value clarification exercises; and 4) a printed summary of patients’ notes, preferences, worries and questions that they could bring to discuss with their rheumatologist.

Conclusions: The study demonstrated that UCD methods can be of great value for the development of PtDAs. The early, iterative involvement of patients and health professionals was helpful in developing a novel user-friendly PtDA that allowed patients to choose between DMARDs. The PtDA fits the values of all stakeholders and easily integrates with the patient pathway and daily workflow of health professionals. This collaborative designed PtDA may improve SDM and patient participation in arthritis care.
Original languageEnglish
Article number51
JournalBMC medical informatics and decision making
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2017


  • International Patient Decision AIDS Standards
  • Patient Decision Aid
  • Shared Decision-Making
  • User-centred design


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