“What matters most to you?” How decision aids help patients make better choices

You might never have heard of a decision aid, but there’s good evidence from a newly updated Cochrane review that they can help people facing decisions about treatment or screening feel better informed about the options and clearer about what matters most to them. This blog looks at what the review found and how decision aids could help to avoid situations like that described by Joanna, who talked to me about her experiences of making a decision about colostomy surgery. Continue reading

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We’ve got a handy checklist for live tweeting from events. Have you?

Academic conferences will never be the same again now we have the powers of social media at our fingertips. I blogged about this transformation in the spring, in the wake of our Cochrane UK and Ireland Symposium and Evidence Live. From the comments this generated and the helpful links people shared on the blog, it’s not just me who’s excited about this and keen to explore its possibilities and participate in events in new ways. If you haven’t yet tried live tweeting, or have yet to be convinced, do read it and check out some of the links. What I want to do here is suggest an aide memoire to help you make the most of live tweeting, when your brain’s fizzing with what you’re hearing, not to mention the jet lag, and there are a zillion people, screens, meetings, food, freebies and goodness knows what else clamoring for your attention. (Ok, you are probably an academic who can filter out all the frivolous stuff and yes I’m up for paperless conferences, but please let there be a nice conference bag and a great lunch!).  Continue reading

Would you like an elephant with your evidence?

The GooniesOnce upon a time, a strange breed of people called ‘systematic reviewers’ used to shut themselves away in dark places, work very hard and for a long time, and eventually slide underneath their door their mysterious product, a shiny new systematic review. This would be taken and stored very carefully, and very secretly, in a document (let’s call it a scientific journal) which could only be seen and understood by those with enough gold to pass through the paywall and who knew the meaning of the special and secret words used in it. Which was all rather a shame as the contents were often quite precious and could be very useful to large numbers of ordinary people. For anyone wanting a neat graphic showing what a systematic review is, I recommend you click here. For those wanting elephants, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Continue reading