We tested the usability of a patient-directed decision aid (DA), intended for patients with early stage papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) deciding to accept or reject adjuvant radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment. This decision is complicated by uncertainty of the medical evidence relating to potential treatment benefits.
The DA was tested by 12 thyroid cancer survivors, 7 thyroid specialty physicians, and 30 lay individuals with no history of thyroid cancer. The participants completed the System Usability Scale for human-computer interaction questionnaire. The medical knowledge of lay participants was assessed before and after DA exposure. Qualitative participant feedback was obtained by thinking aloud during DA use, as well as from interviews.
Participants generally found the usability of the DA acceptable. The DA significantly increased medical knowledge. In spite of some physicians' concerns about disclosure of treatment controversy and evidence uncertainty, it was found to be acceptable to non-physicians.
A computerized DA on RAI treatment is acceptable to physicians and non-physicians and can improve medical knowledge.
In counseling patients about complex medical decisions, disclosure of uncertainty related to medical evidence may be acceptably conveyed using a DA.