Your health, your decision

Shared decision-making with your doctor can help you choose a treatment that’s right for you.

When you make a big purchase or have an important decision to make, you’re likely to seek others’ opinions. You might ask, “What are the pros and cons of this choice or that?” Or you might read up on the topic so that you feel informed. The same process is important when it comes to your health care.

When people are involved in their health care decisions and talk them through with their doctor—a process called shared decision-making—the benefits can be big.

Research shows, for example, that people often feel less anxious when their treatment plan reflects their personal preferences. They also tend to have a quicker recovery and are more likely to comply with their treatment.

How it works and when it helps

With shared decision-making, the conversation goes two ways. Your doctor explains your choices—such as for a treatment, test or procedure—plus the risks and benefits of each. (You might also talk about the option of not having any treatment.) And you share your questions, goals and concerns.

You might benefit from a shared decision-making conversation if your medical care includes:

• Taking a medicine for the rest of your life

• Having a major surgery

• Getting genetic or cancer screening tests

Shared decision-making is especially important when there are several options that are reasonable or when no one choice has a clear advantage.

To help you further, your doctor might also point you to written material, websites or videos that can help you decide what’s right for you. You can bring your friends or family in on the discussion, too, if you think they can help.

The goal of shared decision-making is to help you make the best treatment choice for you.

Sources: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; American Cancer Society; HealthIT.gov; National Institutes of Health

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