A web-based clinical decision tool to support treatment decision-making in psychiatry: A pilot focus group study with clinicians, patients and carers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Catherine Henshall
  • Lisa Marzano
  • Katharine Smith
  • Mary Jane Attenburrow
  • Stephen Puntis
  • Jakov Zlodre
  • Kathleen Kelly
  • Susan Shaw
  • Alvaro Barrera
  • Andrew Molodynski
  • Alastair Reid
  • John R. Geddes
  • Andrea Cipriani

External organisations

  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Warneford Hospital
  • Middlesex University
  • University of Oxford


Background: Treatment decision tools have been developed in many fields of medicine, including psychiatry, however benefits for patients have not been sustained once the support is withdrawn. We have developed a web-based computerised clinical decision support tool (CDST), which can provide patients and clinicians with continuous, up-to-date, personalised information about the efficacy and tolerability of competing interventions. To test the feasibility and acceptability of the CDST we conducted a focus group study, aimed to explore the views of clinicians, patients and carers. Methods: The CDST was developed in Oxford. To tailor treatments at an individual level, the CDST combines the best available evidence from the scientific literature with patient preferences and values, and with patient medical profile to generate personalised clinical recommendations. We conducted three focus groups comprising of three different participant types: consultant psychiatrists, participants with a mental health diagnosis and/or experience of caring for someone with a mental health diagnosis, and primary care practitioners and nurses. Each 1-h focus group started with a short visual demonstration of the CDST. To standardise the discussion during the focus groups, we used the same topic guide that covered themes relating to the acceptability and usability of the CDST. Focus groups were recorded and any identifying participant details were anonymised. Data were analysed thematically and managed using the Framework method and the constant comparative method. Results: The focus groups took place in Oxford between October 2016 and January 2017. Overall 31 participants attended (12 consultants, 11 primary care practitioners and 8 patients or carers). The main themes that emerged related to CDST applications in clinical practice, communication, conflicting priorities, record keeping and data management. CDST was considered a useful clinical decision support, with recognised value in promoting clinician-patient collaboration and contributing to the development of personalised medicine. One major benefit of the CDST was perceived to be the open discussion about the possible side-effects of medications. Participants from all the three groups, however, universally commented that the terminology and language presented on the CDST were too medicalised, potentially leading to ethical issues around consent to treatment. Conclusions: The CDST can improve communication pathways between patients, carers and clinicians, identifying care priorities and providing an up-to-date platform for implementing evidence-based practice, with regard to prescribing practices.


Original languageEnglish
Article number265
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2017


  • Decision making, Evidence based decision tool, Focus group, Treatment algorithm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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