Patient decision aids do more than just provide information. They also guide the patient to identify her values and make treatment decisions congruent with those values.
Still, one benefit from the education part of PDAs is that they help assure all patients receive a consistent baseline of information. They help mitigate the enormous variability in communication from clinician to clinician.
On my way back from a talk on PDAs at Harvard I was struck by how many mandated disclosures I received. Take for example, the below brochure handed to all taxi customers at MSP.
Regulators determined that they could not “trust” all drivers to treat customers fairly, for example, in terms of presenting an appropriate fare. Similarly, we cannot “trust” physicians to accurately, completely, and clearly present appropriate treatment options.
PDAs help equalize the knowledge imbalance between patient and clinician, so they can both meaningfully participate in decision making.