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Aorta (Stamford). 2015 Jun 1;3(3):98-107. doi: 10.12945/j.aorta.2015.14.064. eCollection 2015 Jun.

Analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats as a Tool for Translating Evidence into Individualized Medical Strategies (I-SWOT).

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German Aorta Centre of Hamburg, Centre of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.
Institute of Medical Genetics and Human Genetics, Charité Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany.



It is the physicians' task to translate evidence and guidelines into medical strategies for individual patients. Until today, however, there is no formal tool that is instrumental to perform this translation.


We introduce the analysis of strengths (S) and weaknesses (W) related to therapy with opportunities (O) and threats (T) related to individual patients as a tool to establish an individualized (I) medical strategy (I-SWOT). The I-SWOT matrix identifies four fundamental types of strategy. These comprise "SO" maximizing strengths and opportunities, "WT" minimizing weaknesses and threats, "WO" minimizing weaknesses and maximizing opportunities, and "ST" maximizing strengths and minimizing threats. Each distinct type of strategy may be considered for individualized medical strategies.


We describe four steps of I-SWOT to establish an individualized medical strategy to treat aortic disease. In the first step, we define the goal of therapy and identify all evidence-based therapeutic options. In a second step, we assess strengths and weaknesses of each therapeutic option in a SW matrix form. In a third step, we assess opportunities and threats related to the individual patient, and in a final step, we use the I-SWOT matrix to establish an individualized medical strategy through matching "SW" with "OT". As an example we present two 30-year-old patients with Marfan syndrome with identical medical history and aortic pathology. As a result of I-SWOT analysis of their individual opportunities and threats, we identified two distinct medical strategies in these patients.


I-SWOT is a formal but easy to use tool to translate medical evidence into individualized medical strategies.


Aorta; Evidence-based medicine; Medical decision-making; SWOT analysis; Strategy

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