The relationship between patients and health care professionals is evolving
rapidly into a more active partnership, fostered by increasing access to information
about treatments and by consumerist trends in modern society.1
The term shared decision making describes a true
partnership between professionals and patients, in which each contributes
equally to decisions about treatment or care.2
Shared decision making moves away from the paternalistic model, in which the
professional (usually a physician) assumes the responsibility of deciding
what is best for the patient,1 but it does
not go so far as the informed choice model, in which
control over decision making is vested entirely in the patient. The informed
choice model sometimes has been found to increase patient anxiety and may
lead to patients feeling abandoned.3 The shared
decision making model is increasingly advocated.2
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