Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Decision Support Interventions

4.0 Nurses understand the difference between providing patient education and decision support.

Nursing Actions:

  • Nurses describe patient education
  • Nurses describe the additional elements involved with decision support

Table 6: Comparison of Elements in Patient Education and Decision Support
(+ = included; – = not typically included)

Approach Options & Outcomes Information about Clinical Problem Outcome Probabilities Experience of Others Explicit Values Clarification Role of Others in Decision Maiking Guidance in Steps of Decision Making
Patient Education + +/–
Decision Support + + +/– +/– + +/– +/–

(Adapted from Coulter & Ellins, 2007; O’Connor, 2007; Winterbottom, 2007)

5.0 Nurses use patient decision aids and other tools to provide decision support.

Nursing Actions:

  • Nurses remain neutral when supporting the patient in the decision-making process
  • Nurse use validated tools to provide decision support,
  • Nurses help the patient to build confidence in participation in decision making
  • Nurses meet the patient’s knowledge needs
  • Nurses help the patient clarify his/her values
  • Nurses help the patient to identify and mobilize resources
  • Nurses help the patient to communicate with others during the decision-making process
  • Nurses obtain commitment from the patient for the next decision-making step(s)