The Feasibility and Usability of a Ranking Tool to Elicit Patient Preferences for the Treatment of Trigger Finger

Published:February 20, 2019DOI:


      Shared decision making is an approach where physicians and patients collaborate to make decisions based on patient values. This requires eliciting patients’ preferences for each treatment attribute before making decisions; a structured process for preference elicitation does not exist in hand surgery. We tested the feasibility and usability of a ranking tool to elicit patient preferences for the treatment of trigger finger. We hypothesized that the tool would be usable and feasible at the point of care.


      Thirty patients with a trigger finger without prior treatment were recruited from a hand surgery clinic. A preference elicitation tool was created that presented 3 treatment options (surgical release, injection, and therapy and orthosis) and described attributes of each treatment extracted from literature review (eg, success rate, complications). We presented these attributes to patients using the tool and patients ranked the relative importance (preference) of these attributes to aid in their decision making. The System Usability Scale and tool completion time were used to evaluate usability and feasibility, respectively.


      The tool demonstrated excellent usability (System Usability Scale: 88.7). The mean completion time was 3.05 minutes. Five (16.7%) patients chose surgery, 20 (66.7%) chose an injection, and 5 (16.7%) chose therapy and orthosis. Patients ranked treatment success and cost as the most and least important attributes, respectively. Twenty-nine (96.7%) patients were very to extremely satisfied with the tool.


      A preference elicitation tool for patients to rank treatment attributes by relative importance is feasible and usable at the point of care. A structured process for preference elicitation ensures that patients understand the trade-offs between choices and can assist physicians in aligning treatment decisions with patient preferences.

      Clinical relevance

      A ranking tool is a simple, structured process physicians can use to elicit preferences during shared decision making and highlight trade-offs between treatment options to inform treatment choices.

      Key words

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