Shared Decision Making:
Doctors and Patients Teaming Up for Better Care
A technique called shared decision making, first developed in specialty medicine, shows great promise for psychiatry. Shared decision making helps patients feel more invested in treatment decisions, responds to their concerns, and strengthens doctor-patient communication. It can improve compliance and keep patients engaged for the long haul.
Mental Health America is developing a video depicting what the actual process of shared decision making should look and sound like. Additionally, we are designing a website dedicated to educate consumers as well as providers on the process.
In the video, Dr. Allen Dyer will help a consumer deal with a medication problem that is affecting his job and relationships. Together they explore options and reach a decision. In supporting videos, consumers will learn from a peer specialist how to use a new checklist to communicate with providers and Dr. Dyer will explain the advantages of shared decision making for doctors. The website will separately address the concerns of consumers and providers and provide additional resources for both.
How Shared Decision Making Works
Shared decision making is about teaching, listening and deciding together. You, as the patient, educate your provider about your symptoms, your goals and your preferences. Your mental health provider educates you about your condition, the recommended treatment, and the possible risks and side effects. They also educate you about different treatment options. Together, you reach an agreement about how to proceed. The agreement takes into account the expertise of the provider and your expertise about your own needs and desires.
This way of doing things puts new demands on both mental health providers and their patients. Providers need more time to educate their patients. They must be willing to be educated by their patient's unique needs and desires and take them into account. And to the extent possible, the provider involves the patient in making treatment choices rather than making the choice for the patient.
As a patient, you take on more responsibility when decision making is shared. You have to give the doctor a full and truthful picture of your symptoms. You have to learn as much as you can about your condition to make informed choices. You may have to choose between different treatment options that are offered to you.
Shared decision making is one of the cornerstones of person-centered services. Because you work in close partnership with your provider each decision is made specifically about your situation, needs and goals. Decisions are not made for you; rather, they are made with you. It involves accepting responsibility for yourself and using all of the tools that are available to help you on the road to recovery. ::