Shared Decision Making relies on communications between patient and doctor
Ask an elderly relative to describe what a visit to the doctor’s office was like 50 years ago, and they’ll paint a picture far different from what patients see today. While medical advances represent the most obvious change, the years have also seen an expansion in the role that patients (and families) play in their care decisions.
“Shared Decision Making represents a partnership between the patient and provider that puts the choice of care in the patient’s hands — after a candid and thoughtful discussion about the pros and cons of the different options available,” says Internal Medicine’s Steve Dobieski, MD.
For example, recommendations for the frequency and starting age of mammograms vary among leading organizations. Using the Shared Decision Making model, a patient and her provider would discuss her risk, comfort level, and the various recommendations, and the patient would make the decision that’s best for her based on that conversation.
On the men’s side, a man diagnosed with prostate cancer might review various treatment options and their side effects with his provider and decide whether to opt for surgery or choose to closely monitor the slow-growing cancer. “A 55-year-old man brings a very different perspective from that of a 75-year-old, and it’s important to recognize those differences,” says Dr. Dobieski. “The Shared Decision model recognizes that every patient and every situation is unique and that patients may value the components of the decision differently.”