Shared Decisions

About shared decisions

doctor and couple talking

Shared decision-making ensures that people are supported to make decisions about their health and care that are right for them. It is a collaborative process, through which a health or care professional supports an individual to reach the right decision for their needs.

Shared decision-making is a mainstay of Realistic Medicine. It is also a key goal of strengthening health literacy across communities and within health and care services as set out in the Health Literacy Action Plan for Scotland

At the heart of the shared decision-making process is a conversation between the healthcare professional and the person. This conversation brings together:

  • The professional’s expertise
  • The evidence base around risks and benefits of different options
  • What the person knows best – the outcomes that matter to them, their preferences, personal circumstances, goals, values and beliefs.

Find out more about shared decision-making conversations in the Guidance from NHS England

Shared decision aids

nurse with patient

Shared decision aids are tools designed to support the shared decision-making process and the conversation between the professional and the individual. They set out key issues to consider in arriving at a decision, including the risks and benefits of different options.

NICE Patient decision aids

Public Health England: Smoking Cessation Decision Aid

Shared Decision Aids for Medicines – from NHS Scotland Polypharmacy decision support resource. This is also available as a downloadable mobile app from the App Store and Google Play

Harding Center Fact Boxes

Fact boxes are designed based on research by the Harding Center in the United States. They aim to communicate the best available evidence about a topic in an easily understandable manner. The most important pros and cons are contrasted with each other in a tabular format, to enable people with no medical or statistical background to make competent decisions. Factboxes cover a wide range of topics including antibiotics, dietary supplements, low back pain, pregnancy and childbirth and many others.

Resources for professionals

Communicating harms and benefits : Courses from Royal Colleges

Handbook of Non-Drug Interventions from Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Resources for teaching citizens about engaging in healthcare decisions

Informed Health Choices The Informed Health Choices Network develops, tests and promotes use of learning resources to enable people to think critically about health claims and make informed choices.

Facts4Life Provides practical knowledge and learning resources to help people understand the ‘what, who, when, where and why’ of health and illness, rather than a list of “do’s and don’ts.”

Teachers of Evidence-Based Healthcare : Resources for teachers of evidence-based healthcare to adults, children and young people

Resources for citizens

Ask Me 3 and Ask 3 Questions Guidance and signposting from Scottish Health Council on key questions to help individuals to take part in shared decision making.

BRAN Four questions defined by the Choosing Wisely UK and Association of Medical Royal Colleges campaign to help individuals work with healthcare professionals to make better decisions together.

Testing Treatments International - Resource with guidance on how to think critically about treatment claims

Internet Health Scams – Assessing the Risk of Deception Tool from University of British Columbia.