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Objective

To assess the extent to which an online patient decision aid reduced decisional conflict and improved self-management knowledge/skills in patients who were considering methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods

We used a mixed-methods pre-post study design. Eligible participants had a diagnosis of RA, had been prescribed methotrexate but were unsure about starting it, and had access to the internet. Outcome included the Decisional Conflict Scale, the Methotrexate in RA Knowledge Test, and the Effective Consumer Scale. Paired t-tests were used to assess changes before and after the intervention. Randomly selected participants were interviewed at the end of the study about their experiences with the decision aid.

Results

Of 30 participants, 23 were women. Mean ± SD age was 54.9 ± 14.9 years and the median disease duration was 1 year (interquartile range 0.3–5.0 years). Mean ± SD decisional conflict changed from 49.50 ± 23.17 preintervention to 21.83 ± 24.12 postintervention (change −27.67 [95% confidence interval −39.89, −15.44]; P < 0.001). Knowledge of methotrexate improved (mean ± SD 30.62 ± 9.26 preintervention and 41.67 ± 6.81 postintervention; P < 0.001), but there was no change in effective consumer attributes (mean ± SD 68.24 ± 12.46 preintervention and 72.94 ± 12.74 postintervention; P = 0.15). Three themes emerged from interviews of 11 participants: seeking confirmation of one's own knowledge of methotrexate, amplifying reluctance when they encountered information contradicting their own experiences, and clarifying thoughts about the next step during the process.

Conclusion

Patients' decisional conflict and knowledge improved after using the patient decision aid. Interview findings further highlighted the power of patients' prior knowledge and experiences with RA on how they approach the information presented in a decision aid.