Shared Decision Making
We often rely on our doctors to tell us what care we need. But to get the best care, you and your doctor should make decisions together. This process is called “shared decision making.” Your doctor shares medical expertise, and you share what you want out of your care. Then, you make a decision together.
Shared decision making (SDM) is helpful if there’s more than one way to treat your health problem, and there’s no clear “right” choice. These situations, where the preference of the patient matters, are often called “preference-sensitive” conditions. In these cases, patients’ preferences are considered along with clinical evidence about the costs and benefits of different options.
Since patient (and/or caregiver) participation in SDM is a crucial part of treatment planning for preference-sensitive conditions, it is important for patients to be well informed about their options. Decision aids, like those on this website, can help patients discuss with their providers and understand the trade-offs involved in each medical choice, so they can choose the option that aligns with their priorities and values.
Conditions with preference-sensitive treatment options may include anything from uterine fibroids to type 2 diabetes. Decision aids, when discussed with healthcare providers, can help patients with a wide range of conditions understand what different medical options might mean for them. FAIR Health offers decision aids for patients with uterine fibroids, slow-growing prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Palliative Care Options for Seriously Ill Patients
SDM also can help seriously ill patients and their caregivers make decisions surrounding palliative care. Palliative care is used to ease pain and discomfort in patients who are seriously ill. It treats the symptoms of an illness (like nausea or trouble sleeping), not the illness itself. Patients getting palliative care can still have medical treatments that might cure the illness. Palliative care is not the same as hospice care. Patients receiving hospice care are no longer receiving treatment for their illnesses. FAIR Health offers decision aids for seriously ill patients, and caregivers of seriously ill patients, who may be facing decisions related to dialysis, ventilator and nutrition options.
The decision aids are not intended to be medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. They are intended to provide information to help you engage in shared decision making with health professionals.