33 Scopus citations


Discussing end-of-life decisions with cancer patients is a crucial skill for physicians. This article reports findings from a pilot study evaluating the effectiveness of a computer-based decision aid for teaching medical students about advance care planning. Second-year medical students at a single medical school were randomized to use a standard advance directive or a computer-based decision aid to help patients with advance care planning. Students' knowledge, skills, and satisfaction were measured by self-report; their performance was rated by patients. 121/133 (91%) of students participated. The Decision-Aid Group (n=60) outperformed the Standard Group (n=61) in terms of students' knowledge (p<0.01), confidence in helping patients with advance care planning (p<0.01), knowledge of what matters to patients (p=0.05), and satisfaction with their learning experience (p<0.01). Likewise, patients in the Decision Aid Group were more satisfied with the advance care planning method (p<0.01) and with several aspects of student performance. Use of a computer-based decision aid may be an effective way to teach medical students how to discuss advance care planning with cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-91
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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