Coming October 2016: The next generation of The Community Guide Preview Now
The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide) Go to site home page About the Task Force


Submit your email address to get updates on The Community Guide topics of interest.

image of planet Find Research-Tested Intervention Programs (RTIPs) that use this intervention


Celebrate 10 Years with Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T.

The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services

Together, the Community Guide and the Clinical Guide provide evidence-based recommendations across the prevention spectrum.


Promoting Informed Decision Making for Cancer Screening

Informed decision making (IDM) interventions help educate clients about cancer screening and make decisions with respect to their preferences. The aims of IDM interventions are to increase client participation in decision making at a level desired by the client and to promote decisions consistent with client values. These interventions can be delivered in many ways, such as group education or the mass media, and can include the use of decision aids. IDM is not the same as the “shared decision making” between doctors and clients that takes place in clinical settings, but one supports the other. For more on shared decision making, see the report from a working group of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 259 kB]

Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Findings

The Community Preventive Services Task Force finds insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of informed decision making interventions for:

  • Individuals in healthcare settings (based on mixed results and small effect sizes)
  • Community members outside of healthcare settings (based on a small number of studies)
  • Interventions targeted to healthcare systems and providers (based on a small number of studies)

Task Force Finding

Results from the Systematic Review

Eleven studies qualified for the systematic review.

There was generally consistent evidence that IDM interventions improve:

  • Knowledge
  • Accuracy of beliefs
  • Risk perceptions
  • A combination of these

However, there was little or no evidence about whether these interventions:

  • Result in individuals participating in decision making at a level they desire
  • Result in decisions that are consistent with individual values and preferences
  • Affect screening rates, especially among high-risk populations (e.g., older, non-white, low-income)

These results were based on a systematic review of all available studies, conducted on behalf of the Task Force by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice and policy related to cancer prevention.

image of planetFind a Research-tested Intervention Program (RTIP) External Web Site Icon about the use of informed decision making for cancer screening (What is an RTIP?).

Economic Review

An economic review of this intervention was not conducted because the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine its effectiveness.

Supporting Materials


Briss PA, Rimer BK, Reilley B, et al. Promoting informed decisions about cancer screening in communities and healthcare systems: a conceptual background and systematic review from the Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 290 kB] Am J Prev Med 2004;26(1):67-80.

Read other Community Guide publications about Cancer Prevention and Control in our library.


The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.

Sample Citation

The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation: Guide to Community Preventive Services. Promoting informed decision making for cancer screening. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.

Review completed: February 2002