Most people want to be involved in decisions about their health care. But patients, their families, and their clinicians don’t always know the best ways to discuss topics such as the possible trade-offs in choosing treatments or patients’ personal preferences.

Shared decision making addresses these concerns. In shared decision making, patients and clinicians discuss diagnostic or treatment options, including their effectiveness and their potential benefits and harms, in ways that are designed to be easier for patients to understand. Patients are prompted to think about and communicate their preferences regarding treatment outcomes and other issues of importance to them. Clinicians and patients then decide on the care plan that makes the most sense given the patients’ preferences.

Research has found that shared decision making can increase patients’ satisfaction, result in changes to the care they receive, and improve their health outcomes. Learn about the studies that compare healthcare options to produce evidence to help patients and those who care for them make better-informed decisions.

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