What is Shared Decision Making?

Shared decision making (SDM) is a collaborative process that allows patients and their providers to make health care decisions together, taking into account the best scientific evidence available, as well as the patient’s values and preferences.

SDM honors both the provider’s expert knowledge and the patient’s right to be fully informed of all care options and the potential harms and benefits. This process provides patients with the support they need to make the best individualized care decisions, while allowing providers to feel confident in the care they prescribe.

See a video featuring Stillwater Medical Group discussing the benefits of shared decision making.

SDM is particularly important when it comes to preference-sensitive care, where there is more than one clinically appropriate treatment option for the condition, each with benefits and drawbacks, and in which the patient’s values and preferences should be critical in determining the chosen intervention.

Unfortunately, patients often make decisions about medical treatments without completely understanding their options. Decision aids present the various treatment options in an unbiased, balanced way to patients so they can make an informed choice. These tools, which are designed to complement, rather than replace, counseling from a health care provider, can be used to facilitate a shared decision making conversation between patient and provider.