Shared Decision Making and Your Health

Doctors are experts in disease process and management. You may rely on them to make treatment plans. However, you are the expert on your body, life goals, and values. These factors also play an important role when making health and treatment choices.

Shared decision making combines input from both you and your doctor. The doctor shares information about the disease and treatment options with you. Then you and your doctor then talk about which choices make the most sense. The result is a care plan that not only treats the disease but also reflects the goals and values of the patient.

About Shared Decision Making

Shared decision making is not just about making you feel better about your treatment plan. People who used shared decision are more likely to:

  • Understand the benefits and risks of each choice
  • Stick to their care plan
  • Have better outcomes including satisfaction with care

Both you and your care team will need to take an active role. Being an active patient may mean:

  • Learning more about your health
  • Understanding which care choices are available
  • Open and honest communication with your care team

When to Use This Model

You can use this model any time you are working with your care team. But you will find it most helpful when you need to make tough choices about your health, such as when:

  • There is more than one healthcare choice
  • No one choice has a clear benefit over the others
  • The pros and cons of the choices are not the same
  • The choices do not affect you the same way they affect other patients

Key Tips

Use these tips to put shared decision making into action:

  • Ask any questions that you may have. You have a right to know.
  • Ask about the care choices you have. Know the benefits and risks of each one.
  • Share your goals and concerns with your care team. Try to be open and honest.
  • Tell your care team about the things that may get in the way of these choices.
  • Ask where you can find out more.
  • Tell your doctor if you need time to think before you decide.

There may be times when the choices you have made do not have the outcomes you expected. Let your care team know right away. They can work with you to make choices that may be more helpful to care for your health problems.


Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


College of Family Physicians of Canada


The SHARE approach: a model for shared decisionmaking—fact sheet. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. Available at: Updated September 2016. Accessed May 10, 2019.
Shared decision making. website. Available at: Published December 2013. Accessed May 10, 2019.
Strategy 6I: Shared decisionmaking. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. Available at: Updated October 2017. Accessed May 10, 2019.
Last reviewed May 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 11/05/2019

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