Implementing shared decision making

People need confidence to play an active role, supported by their clinician, decision support materials, and the right service processes.

The key elements involved in implementing shared decision making are:

Building patient awareness

Patients often go into a consultation expecting that their clinician will make the decision about what treatment they should have, and do not expect or feel confident to be involved.  Health services need to promote shared decision making so people feel confident and empowered to be active in decisions about their care.  Read more about different ways to build patient awareness

Using decision support materials 

Decision support materials can help healthcare professionals structure their consultations, providing clear evidence-based information that enables the clinician and patient to jointly review treatment options and helping patients  clarify what is important to them based on their personal preferences, values, attitude to risk, lifestyle and circumstances.  Read more about how decision support materials can support better decision making, the different types and how to use them. 

Practitioner development

Health professionals need to use particular approaches, skills and techniques to ensure people are active in decisions about their own care.  Training in shared decision making helps individual practitioners to develop their clinical practice and it helps teams and organisations to develop and embed a culture of shared decision making.  Read more about the key stages of shared decision making in a consultation and how training can help health professionals and teams.  

Improving systems and processes 

Services can make simple (and more complex) changes that encourage and enable shared decision making.  These might range from displaying posters encouraging people to ‘Ask 3 Questions’ to adding shared decision making codes to EMIS and using these to provide feedback to individual clinicians on their practice.  Read more about how to improve systems and processes to better support shared decision making.  

Measuring and evaluating impact

Measuring and evaluating shared decision making activity can show impacts ranging from increased patient satisfaction to changes in rates of interventions.  The process itself can also have benefits, including reminding patients that the service is interested in their experience and encouraging health professionals to maintain their shared decision making practices. Read more about ways to measure and evaluate the impact of shared decision making.