Shared Decision Making – it matters to you

We all hear talk all the time about how our bodies belong to us and we should be in charge. The trouble is, making informed decisions about your own health is only possible if you have all the information you need. That’s where the new initiative from The Health Foundation comes in.

We all hear talk all the time about how our bodies belong to us and we should be in charge. The trouble is, making informed decisions about your own health is only possible if you have all the information you need. That’s where the new initiative from The Health Foundation comes in.

On the downside, nearly 1 in 4 patients in primary care in a recent major survey felt their GP was not good at involving them in decisions about their care.1 Of course, the flip side is that over three quarters felt their GP was giving them a say – but, in hospital, almost half of inpatients and 30% of outpatients wanted to be more involved. 2

So, how can you make sure that there is ‘no decision about me, without me’? First, it’s important to have reliable information. patient.info works hard to provide accurate, up-to-date guidance written by GPs for GPs and their patients.

Building on this, the Health Foundation Magic Resource centre is launching a pilot of Brief Decision Aids (BDAs) for patients, which lay out all the options for treatment of a range of medical conditions. They’re breaking themselves in gently, with just 10 conditions covered in the first tranche, but there are more to come.

The conditions or topics are: smoking cessation, leg cramps, menorrhagia (heavy periods), irritable bowel syndrome, tennis elbow, enlarged prostate, plantar fasciitis (heel/foot pain), carpal tunnel syndrome, contraceptive choices, and warts and verrucas. These BDAs are also based on the high quality data from patient.info, so you know you can trust the options they suggest.

It’s crucial to remember that shared decision making is all about equal partnership. Your GP has 10 years of training, and often many more years or experience of dealing with conditions like yours. They shouldn’t be there to tell you what’s best for you – after all, it’s your body.

But, by the same token, they aren’t there just as an obstacle between you and the treatment you want. Just now and again, all that medical training comes in handy. Often they will know you well, and this may help them to guide you to the right treatment.

So, if you have a medical condition and are trying to decide where to go next, ask yourself if you’re happy with the part you’re playing in your own health. Your doctor has the medical training, but you live with the consequences.

Refs

  1. The GP Patient Survey July–September 2011, ipsos MORI
  2. CQC patient surveys 2010
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.