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Patients And Clinicians Urged To Share Healthcare Decisions

Clinicians have an ethical imperative to share important decisions with patients, and patients have a right to be equal participants in their care, attendees of the recent Salzburg Global Seminar have announced.

Titled ‘The Greatest Untapped Resource in Healthcare? Informing and Involving Patients in Decisions about Their Medical Care’, the seminar asked 58 participants from 18 to consider the role patients can and should play in healthcare decisions. They have published a joint statement urging patients and clinicians “to work together to be co-producers of health”
 (available from http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1745.full).

Professor Glyn Elwyn from Cardiff University, one of the statement’s signatories, says that despite considerable interest in shared decision making, and clear evidence of benefit, implementation within the NHS “has proved difficult and slow”. The group calls on policymakers to adopt policies that encourage shared decision making and to support the development of necessary skills and tools.

Participants claim that clinicians are often slow to recognise the extent to which patients’ wish to be involved in understanding their health problems, in knowing the options available to them, and in making decisions that take account of their personal preferences. 

 They call on clinicians to stimulate a two-way flow of information with patients. In turn, they urge patients to ask questions and speak up about their concerns, to recognise that they have a right to be equal participants in their care, and to seek and use high-quality health information.

Published on: April 6, 2011

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