Informed decision making about prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing Findings and implications from formative testing of a multimodal intervention

By Cynthia Soloe, Lauren McCormack, Katherine Treiman, David Driscoll, Shelly Harris

We created the You Decide multimodal intervention to provide men with the information, skills, and reinforcement needed to engage in informed decision making (IDM) related to prostate cancer screening. We developed intervention materials based on three rounds of formative research conducted with 145 members of the intended recipient audience through 10 focus groups and more than 50 individual in-depth interviews. This report documents key findings from our formative research that may apply to the development of other IDM interventions, especially those related to prostate cancer. Our findings underscored (1) the difficulty of promoting IDM for cancer screening given people's high affinity for such screenings, and (2) the challenge of graphically communicating risk-related tradeoffs. We found that pretest participants had a preference for full-story narratives conveying personal experiences and interpersonal learning opportunities. Our formative research findings also supported the need to use plain language to address a range of health literacy levels. We describe our efforts to apply these formative research findings in our final intervention materials and discuss implications for future intervention research. Our findings underscore the importance of involving the intended audience in the process of developing intervention materials.


Soloe, C., McCormack, L., Treiman, K., Driscoll, D., & Harris, S. (2009). Informed decision making about prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing: Findings and implications from formative testing of a multimodal intervention. (RTI Press Publication No. RR-0006-0902). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Cynthia SoloeCindy S. Soloe, MPH, is a Research Health Analyst at RTI International.

Lauren McCormackLauren A. McCormack, PhD, created and directs RTI’s Center for Communication Science. Dr. McCormack is also adjunct associate professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  

Katherine TreimanKatherine Treiman, PhD, is a Senior Research Scientist in RTI’s Health Communication program.

David DriscollDavid Driscoll, PhD, is Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies, University of Alaska, Anchorage.

Shelly HarrisShelly Harris, MPH, is a Research Health Policy Analyst at RTI International.

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