What is Shared Decision Making and what are its benefits?

A 2001 report of the Institute of Medicine defined patient centered care as “care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values,” and stated, “that patient values guide all clinical decisions.” In stating these principles, the report emphasized “the importance of clinicians and patients working together to produce the best possible outcomes.”

Shared decision making is a model of patient-centered care that enables and encourages individuals to play a role in the medical and mental health decisions that affect them. In this model, the care team and the individual receiving care, work in partnership to share information that may impact decision making. During shared decision making the care team provides the individual with evidence-based information about treatment choices leaving ample time for the individual to ask questions and clarify options. Importantly, the individual shares their personal preferences, needs, and values with regard to their condition and treatment. Ultimately, the decision as to next steps is that of the individual receiving care. The care team supports and respects these decisions.

There are several benefits to using shared decision making. First, it strengthens the patient-provider relationship, building trust and understanding. Second, individuals who are empowered to make decisions about their health that reflect their personal preferences often experience more favorable health outcomes and may be more likely to follow through with the treatment plan that is mutually developed.

To learn more about the process of Shared Decision Making and access references, please read this guide from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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