A scoping review of evidence on the use and effectiveness of decision aids in adult social care

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Context: Social care-related decisions can be complex but despite their widespread use in health care to help patients make similarly complex decisions, the use of decision aids in social care is not well examined.
Objective: To review the international research evidence on decision aids in adult social care and investigate the availability of such aids for planning later life care on adult social care-related websites in England.
Methods: Decision aid was defined broadly. Systematic searches for empirical research evidence published in English between 2000 and 2020. Searches were undertaken in January and February 2020. Websites of 11 UK social care-related voluntary and quasi-governmental organisations plus 53 English local councils searched for decision aids.
Findings: Five papers published between 2001 and 2019 reported the development of five different decision aids. Two decision aids were web-based; three were paper-based or of unspecified formats. Two were assessed against international criteria for decision aids. Three further papers reported evaluations of the effectiveness of two of these aids.
Most social care-related websites searched did not offer any relevant decision tools.
Limitations: Some papers described tools that were primarily research instruments. Relevant papers may have been missed due to technical challenges. Not all council websites were searched.
Implications: Future research to develop decision aids might benefit from drawing on earlier literature about people’s attitudes to and readiness to engage with care planning and how this translates into willingness to use decision aids. Combining decision aids with strengths- and asset-based approaches in adult social care practice could be fruitful.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-113
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Long-Term Care
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021

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