Blog | Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Patients as partners

The old paradigm of the patient waiting passively for their doctor's expert instructions is gradually eroding. A recently published analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials lends credence to that assumption, concluding that shared decision making (SDM) often leads to better outcomes.

Would anyone dispute that patients benefit from knowing what's going on? Perhaps not, but hard evidence was lacking, according to the study published in the fourth 2008 issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

SDM--when patient and physician act as partners sharing in decisions about treatment preferences and choices--is particularly effective for long-term decisions involving chronic illnesses, according to the study. The authors stopped short of endorsing SDM as the best approach in all treatment situations, saying more research is needed.

The medical evidence may be lacking but common sense says that you can't go wrong by keeping patients in the loop.