Open Access Open Badges Research article

Values clarification in a decision aid about fertility preservation: does it add to information provision?

Mirjam M Garvelink1*, Moniek M ter Kuile1, Anne M Stiggelbout2 and Marieke de Vries3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gynecology, Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Mail zone VRSP, P/O Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, the Netherlands

2 Department of Medical Decision Making, LUMC, Leiden, the Netherlands

3 Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research (TIBER), Department of Social Psychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2014, 14:68  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-14-68

Published: 9 August 2014



We aimed to evaluate the effect of a decision aid (DA) with information only compared to a DA with values clarification exercise (VCE), and to study the role of personality and information seeking style in DA-use, decisional conflict (DC) and knowledge.


Two scenario-based experiments were conducted with two different groups of healthy female participants. Dependent measures were: DC, knowledge, and DA-use (time spent, pages viewed, VCE used). Respondents were randomized between a DA with information only (VCE-) and a DA with information plus a VCE(VCE+) (experiment 1), or between information only (VCE-), information plus VCE without referral to VCE(VCE+), and information plus a VCE with specific referral to the VCE, requesting participants to use the VCE(VCE++) (experiment 2). In experiment 2 we additionally measured personality (neuroticism/conscientiousness) and information seeking style (monitoring/blunting).


Experiment 1. There were no differences in DC, knowledge or DA-use between VCE- (n=70) and VCE+ (n=70). Both DAs lead to a mean gain in knowledge from 39% at baseline to 73% after viewing the DA. Within VCE+, VCE-users (n=32, 46%) reported less DC compared to non-users. Since there was no difference in DC between VCE- and VCE+, this is likely an effect of VCE-use in a self-selected group, and not of the VCE per se. Experiment 2. There were no differences in DC or knowledge between VCE- (n=65), VCE+ (n=66), VCE++ (n=66). In all groups, knowledge increased on average from 42% at baseline to 72% after viewing the DA. Blunters viewed fewer DA-pages (R=0.38, p<.001). More neurotic women were less certain (R=0.18, p<.01) and felt less supported in decision making (R=0.15, p<.05); conscientious women felt more certain (R=-0.15, p<.05) and had more knowledge after viewing the DA (R=0.15, p<.05).


Both DAs lead to increased knowledge in healthy populations making hypothetical decisions, and use of the VCE did not improve knowledge or DC. Personality characteristics were associated to some extent with DA-use, information seeking styles with aspects of DC. More research is needed to make clear recommendations regarding the need for tailoring of information provision to personality characteristics, and to assess the effect of VCE use in actual patients.

Values clarification method; Decision aid; Decisional conflict; Knowledge; Personality; Information seeking style; Experiment