What is Shared Decision Making?
Sometimes when we face a health care decision, there is no single "best answer." We all use the information we have and our own values and preferences to make decisions about things like:
- The health care tests we get
- The treatment we receive
- How we take care of our ongoing, chronic conditions
Shared decision making helps people find the "best answers" for them. Research tells us that patients who make decisions in this way usually feel better about their choices. They may have better health as a result too.
How does Shared Decision Making Work?
- In shared decision making, patients work together with their doctor and the rest of their health care team.
- The health team tells the patient about the pros and cons for each option.
- Sometimes they use a booklet or a video called a decision aid.
- After using the decision aid, the patient tells the health team about what matters most to him or her, and what option seems to fit these values best.
Shared Decision Making at MaineHealth
The MaineHealth Community Education Program offers decision aids that are sometimes "prescribed" by a provider to explain patients' options for certain conditions or tests. You can also borrow decision aids from Learning Resource Center lending libraries. After you use a decision aid, a trained health educator can help answer your questions, or help you get ready to bring your questions to your provider.
To learn more about decision aids and shared decision making, ask a health educator at a MaineHealth Learning Resource Center near you. You can also call us at 1-866-609-5183 to request a decision aid.