OBJECTIVES The objective of this randomized, controlled study was to determine the usefulness of a decision aid on pre-donation of autologous blood before elective open heart surgery. METHODS The decision aid (DA) group received a tape and booklet which described the options for peri-operative transfusion in detail. The no decision aid (NDA) group received information usually given to patients about
autologous donation. RESULTS A total of 120 patients were randomized. The DA group rated themselves better prepared for decision making and showed significant improvements in knowledge (p = 0. 001) and realistic risk perceptions (p = 0. 001). In both groups there was an increase in the proportion of patients choosing allogeneic blood between baseline and follow-up (p = 0. 001). Patients in the DA group were significantly more satisfied with the amount of information they received, how they were treated and with the decision they made, than patients in the NDA group. CONCLUSION The decision aid is useful in preparing patients for decision making. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS The next stage is to explore strategies to make it available to all appropriate patients.