(HealthDay News) – Patients with early-stage papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) may benefit from the use of a patient-directed computerized decision aid (DA) to provide medical knowledge and resolve decisional conflicts regarding the use of adjuvant radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment, according to research published online July 2 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Anna M. Sawka, MD, PhD, of the University Health Network and University of Toronto, and colleagues conducted a parallel, two-group, randomized, controlled trial involving 74 patients with early-stage PTC after thyroidectomy (83.8% women; mean age, 45.8 years). Participants were randomly allocated to receive usual care with the use of a DA or usual care alone in a 1:1 ratio. Validated questionnaires were used to assess medical knowledge about PTC and RAI and decisional conflict.

The researchers found that, compared with the control group, participants in the DA group had significantly greater medical knowledge and significantly reduced decisional conflict. There was no significant difference between the groups for use of adjuvant RAI treatment (29.7 and 18.9% for DA group and control group, respectively; P=0.278).

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“In conclusion, a computerized patient-directed DA significantly improves medical knowledge and reduces decisional conflict in patients with early-stage PTC who are considering adjuvant RAI treatment,” the authors write. “Our data also suggest that DAs may facilitate knowledge translation for decisions on cancer treatment that are subject to uncertainty of medical evidence.”

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