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Shared decision-making

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Content Reviewers:

Everyone has preferences - everything from coffee versus tea to more serious ones like buying versus renting.

These preferences are particularly important when it comes to your health - for example, do you prefer to take medications which may have side effects or do you prefer to hold off on medications to see if things improve on their own?

Probably depends on the situation, right?

Well shared decision making between an individual, their family and the entire healthcare team - helps ensure that an individual’s preferences are respected and prioritized.

And some conditions like breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart conditions, and back pain are especially sensitive to individual preferences.

In fact, informed choices typically lead to better outcomes.

Now, to make a well-informed choice, individuals need reliable information about the pro’s and con’s of a treatment option.

That can come from a decision aid like a pamphlet, video, or a website.

Let’s take the example of back pain. Imagine that there’s an elderly woman named Ramona who has been struggling with chronic back pain.

She goes online and finds a variety of options - wearing a back brace, trying yoga, surgery, and losing weight - just to name a few - but it’s hard to know what information to trust.

Shared decision making is a process that can help her navigate these choices with a healthcare professional.

One approach is called the three-talk model.

The first part is called team talk and it’s where a clinician describes choices, offers support, and asks about an individual's goals.

Ramona shares that she lives alone, but can no longer take long walks or pick up her grandson because of her pain.

In fact, that’s the main reason that she’s taking her pain more seriously now.