This report from the Patients Association describes shared decision making and its benefits, before going on to assess how it has been formally embedded in NHS programmes and practice. It identifies the barriers preventing shared decision making becoming a reality for patients as a matter of course, and possible solutions.
The report makes the case that shared decision making, when patients and doctors work together to decide treatment options, provides benefits to patients and the health service. It also outlines that patients, and the professionals treating them, face many barriers in making this work in practice.
It sets out a number of recommendations aimed at making shared decision making a reality:
- National health leaders must address the barriers in the health system to shared decision making and champion the practice.
- There should be greater promotion of the information and tools that exist to support patients take part in shared decision making.
- Information and awareness campaigns that a relevant to different communities should be created.
- An audit should be undertaken of how shared decision making taught in medical schools to develop a picture of how skilled in shared decision making we can reasonably expect our present workforce to be.
- Whether targets in the NHS Comprehensive Model for Personalised Care for making shared decision making are being met must be reported.
The report also suggests several areas where additional research is required in this regard:
- Our research found that people with diabetes may have poorer experiences of shared decision making: this should be investigated further.
- What can be done that would spread the benefits of shared decision making to more patients, especially to people who typically don’t have a good experience of healthcare.
- More work should be done to develop information used to support patients in shared decision making.
- Further research is needed to identify whether shared decision making requires more time in, or a different pattern of, clinical appointments.
- Future work to promote shared decision making to patients should explore raising awareness of its benefits, and the evidence that demonstrates them.