Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 33–42 | Cite as

A Comparison of Web-Based Versus Print-Based Decision Aids for Prostate Cancer Screening: Participants’ Evaluation and Utilization

  • Catherine Tomko
  • Kimberly M. Davis
  • George Luta
  • Alexander H. Krist
  • Steven H. Woolf
  • Kathryn L. Taylor
Original Research



Patient decision aids facilitate informed decision making for medical tests and procedures that have uncertain benefits.


To describe participants’ evaluation and utilization of print-based and web-based prostate cancer screening decision aids that were found to improve decisional outcomes in a prior randomized controlled trial.


Men completed brief telephone interviews at baseline, one month, and 13 months post-randomization.


Participants were primary care patients, 45-70 years old, who received the print-based (N = 628) or web-based decision aid (N = 625) and completed the follow-up assessments.


We assessed men’s baseline preference for web-based or print-based materials, time spent using the decision aids, comprehension of the overall message, and ratings of the content.


Decision aid use was self-reported by 64.3 % (web) and 81.8 % (print) of participants. Significant predictors of decision aid use were race (white vs. non-white, OR = 2.43, 95 % CI: 1.77, 3.35), higher education (OR = 1.68, 95 % CI: 1.06, 2.70) and trial arm (print vs. web, OR = 2.78, 95 % CI: 2.03, 3.83). Multivariable analyses indicated that web-arm participants were more likely to use the website when they preferred web-based materials (OR: 1.91, CI: 1.17, 3.12), whereas use of the print materials was not significantly impacted by a preference for print-based materials (OR: 0.69, CI: 0.38, 1.25). Comprehension of the decision aid message (i.e., screening is an individual decision) did not significantly differ between arms in adjusted analyses (print: 61.9 % and web: 68.2 %, p = 0.42).


Decision aid use was independently influenced by race, education, and the decision aid medium, findings consistent with the ‘digital divide.’ These results suggest that when it is not possible to provide this age cohort with their preferred decision aid medium, print materials will be more highly used than web-based materials. Although there are many advantages to web-based decision aids, providing an option for print-based decision aids should be considered.


prostate cancer screening decision aid informed decision making shared decision making 



The authors would like to thank the participants who volunteered their time to participate in this study and to thank Susan Marx for her administrative support. Sources of funding include the National Cancer Institute (R01 CA119168-01) and Department of Defense (PC051100) to KLT. Additional support was provided by the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Shared Resource and the LCCC Cancer Center Support Grant. Results from this manuscript will be presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Philadelphia, PA.

Conflicts of Interest

None of the authors have any conflicts of interest or financial disclosures to report.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Tomko
    • 1
  • Kimberly M. Davis
    • 1
  • George Luta
    • 2
  • Alexander H. Krist
    • 3
  • Steven H. Woolf
    • 3
  • Kathryn L. Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer CenterGeorgetown University Medical CenterWashington DCUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and BiomathematicsGeorgetown University Medical CenterWashington DCUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family MedicineVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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