Thursday, March 16, 2006

Shared Decision Making

Shared Decision Making:
"1. Patients need to understand their options thoroughly
2. Patients need to understand why it is in their interest to participate fully in decision making, rather than delegating decisions to their doctors
Since 1989, the Foundation has produced programs with the information that patients need in order to make an informed decision. These programs help patients clarify their values, understand the importance of their preferences in making good medical decisions and work in partnership with their physicians to make shared medical decisions.
No one medical answer is right for all people
The decision that will best serve a particular patient often depends critically on the patient's own preferences and values. The treatment that is best for one patient may not be what is best for another who is in exactly the same situation.
Informed, active decision makers
When patients get sick, they sometimes face treatment decisions that can be confusing and frightening. Should I choose surgery or something less invasive? Is this procedure right for me? Should I 'watch and wait' and defer a decision for now? Should I have this test? What are the chances that this treatment will work for me? How will it make me feel? How will it change my life?
Very often doctors make these decisions for patients, and many patients prefer that model. However, a growing body of research shows that when patients are well informed and play a significant role in deciding how they are going to treat or manage their health conditions, things work out better. Informed patients feel better about the decision process. Their decisions are more likely to match up with their preferences, values and concerns. These patients are more likely to stick with the regimens the treatment requires, and they often end up rating their health after treatment as better."
And this is why information therapy is such powerful medicine. Medicine is a science as well as an art - and the art consists of applying the science intelligently to each patient, where each patient has made their own decisions for themselves !

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