NICE process and methods
This process guide provides an overview of the key principles used for developing NICE decision aids. It ensures that robust, quality-assured decision aids for people using and providing health and social care services are developed in an open, transparent and timely way, with appropriate input from key groups. Decision aids produced under this process will comply with the standards framework for shared-decision-making support tools, including patient decision aids.
All NICE guidance states that professionals and practitioners should take into account the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service, alongside the guidance recommendations.
Some decisions are particularly preference-sensitive; that is, the possible treatment or care options have possible harms, benefits and consequences which people value differently and so the best choice for an individual depends on the emphasis that person places on each of them and the trade-offs they are willing to make. Decisions may be preference-sensitive for individuals even if, at a population level, there is evidence favouring one option.
NICE decision aids support shared decision making about the preference-sensitive decisions to which they relate. They are intended to support conversations between professionals or practitioners and people in their care, not replace them.
The aim of NICE decision aids is to help people facing a decision about treatment or care options (and their family and carers, as appropriate) make an informed choice based on which of the different options' advantages and disadvantages matter most to them. They do this by:
describing what the options involve and summarising the best available evidence relating to their possible harms, benefits and consequences, including the option of having no treatment or not changing what the person is currently doing.
presenting that information in a way that is easy for people facing the decision (and their family and carers, as appropriate) to understand, with support from their health or care practitioner.
The primary audiences for NICE decision aids are people facing decisions (and their family and carers, as appropriate) and the professionals and practitioners involved in their care. Secondary audiences are organisations commissioning or providing care (which may include decision aids in policies and pathways), and voluntary and community sector organisations (which may promote them to the people with whom they work).
Producing NICE decision aids involves:
identifying the possible options and the possible harms, benefits and consequences of them that are important to most people facing the decision
describing what the options involve and identifying and summarising the best available evidence relating to their possible harms, benefits and consequences
presenting the information in a suitable format, including visual representations of the chance of benefits or harms where possible.
reviewing and updating the decision aid.
See the section on developing a patient decision aid for more details.