Mayo Clinic Rochester News

Friday, May 18, 2001 Helps People Evaluate What Treatment Option is Best for Them

New Guides Enable Users to Make Decisions More Confidently

A new feature on helps people determine the right treatment option for their individual situation.

The resource, called "Health Decision Guides," was developed for anyone who is facing new diagnoses and needs to make a treatment decision in partnership with his/her physician. Four modules have been developed for prevalent medical conditions, and five more will be available soon. The first four address anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries, early-stage breast cancer, children’s middle ear infections and colorectal cancer screening. By summer, health decision guides will be available for herniated disk/low back pain, early stage prostate cancer, hormone replacement therapy, Alzheimer’s/dementia caregiving and genetic breast and ovarian cancer.

"Choosing a treatment option is agonizing and difficult," says Dr. Brooks Edwards, medical editor of and a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. "We developed these guides to help people thoroughly compare their options and understand the pros and cons of various treatments."

Each guide provides two types of expertise — that of a Mayo Clinic specialist and that of individuals who have faced the particular diagnosis and undergone particular treatment.

The professional advice provides a comprehensive understanding of the trade-offs inherent between treatment options. Mayo specialists explain risks and benefits, the pros and cons, and offers key considerations. The personal stories contain videos and transcripts of people who share how and why they made their treatment choices and how satisfied they were with those decisions. The individuals talk frankly about their experiences and explain what was important in their decision-making process, what surprises they experienced after their decision and what advice they have for others who are facing the same decision.

As an example, the ACL Health Decision Guide contains:
• Videos and articles explaining the normal functions of the knee and how ACL injuries occur.
• How a torn ACL ligament is diagnosed, including videos of tests a doctor may perform.
• Treatment options — surgery and nonsurgical therapy and the trade-offs involved in each.
• Answers from a Mayo Clinic sports medicine specialist covering topics such as: "Should my age be a factor in making my decision?" "Is the surgery painful?" "How much time daily will I need to spend exercising?"
• Personal stories from a junior-high male athlete who chose to have reconstructive surgery, a middle-aged woman who opted first to try rehabilitation and later underwent reconstructive surgery, a young woman who has had 12 years of success with a nonsurgical choice, and a middle-aged woman who chose nonsurgical rehabilitation.

To find the decision guides, go to the home page and click on the words "Health Decision Guides" in the left column.


Suzanne Leaf-Brock
507-284-1114 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)