Shared decision making

Shared decision-making recognises that patients need personalised information from health professionals based on evidence about treatment and test options, including their benefits and harms and the likelihood of these occurring.

This information is needed to make informed health care decisions. Shared decision-making is being driven by health consumers, and many countries around the world are putting systems in place in their health systems to support this approach to health care.

The No decision about me, without me slogan from the UK highlights that health consumers are at the heart of the matter.

The SHARE of Ask Share Know

The SHARE of ASK SHARE KNOW is very important, as doctors and nurses are professional BUT not professional mind readers, so be confident in sharing information about you that only you know.

This will help you to discuss what tests or treatment options you would prefer or prefer not to do.

The more you share information about you, the more your health professional will be able to give you the information you need.

This means that the decision you make will take into account things like your medical history, individual risk factors and lifestyle preferences.

If, for example, you are considering which contraceptive method to use, your choice may be influenced by lots of factors including:

  • any medical conditions you may have
  • plans for children in the future
  • feelings you have about the different options.

The more a part of the decision you are, the more likely you are to succeed in getting the benefits of the treatment decided on.

So making the right treatment choice means understanding your treatment options and sharing the decision with your doctor about which option best suits you.


Sharing information with health professionals

People make decisions all the time, many are simple, and many involve multiple choices with multiple possible outcomes.

Making good decisions is a combination of your health professional’s expert knowledge of medicine and your knowledge about your individual lifestyle, preferences and needs so it is really important that you and your doctor make the decision together.

Shared decision-making is a term used to describe an approach to health care consultations where the health professional and the patient are partners in the decision process. (This could be with a doctor, nurse or another health professional, a physio for example).

What this means is:

  • The patient and health professional take part in the decision-making
  • There is a two-way flow of information between the health professional and the patient
  • A decision is made when both the health professional and the patient agree on the most appropriate plan of action (for example this could be a treatment, a test or a type of surgery)

Over recent years, the public have increased their expectation of being fully informed about healthcare and available tests or treatment options.

Acceptance of “medical paternalism”, the idea that a doctor doesn’t tell patients lots of details and makes decisions on their behalf, is much less common than it was a few decades ago.

What are individual lifestyle preferences and needs?

Preferences and needs are things you like that help you decide between alternatives or options.

  • Lifestyle preferences

    What are your eating and exercise habits? Do you enjoy exercising regularly? Would you consider losing some weight to improve the effects of your knee surgery?

    When it comes to taking medication, do you remember to take all your antibiotics or do you find you get to the end of the week and you have 3 tablets left over? Do you try to avoid medication when possible?

  • Individual needs

    What may influence your decision to take medication or not? Do you need to get better as quickly as you can so you look after your family or get back to work?