Safety and Quality > Our Work > Shared Decision Making

The Commission is developing a program of work of shared decision making as a part of its commitment to supporting patient-centred care and to complement our work on reducing unwarranted health care variation and ensuring appropriateness of care.

Shared decision making involves the integration of a patient’s values, goals and concerns with the best available evidence about benefits, risks and uncertainties of treatment, in order to achieve appropriate health care decisions.

It involves clinicians and patients making decisions about the patient’s management together.

In partnership with their clinician, patients are encouraged to consider available screening, treatment, or management options and the likely benefits and harms of each, to communicate their preferences, and help select the course of action that best fits these.

Shared decision making is of increasing interest to policy makers and international researchers. Current research indicates that:

  • patients are less informed and involved in making decisions about their health care than they would like to be
  • shared decision making can improve satisfaction with care and leads to better quality decisions
  • patients using evidence-based decision aids have improved knowledge of the options, more accurate expectations of possible benefits and harms, and feel that they had greater participation in decision making than people receiving usual care
  • better-informed patients make different, often more conservative, less costly choices about treatment, because, it is thought, that information provides a realistic appreciation of likely benefits and risks of treatment and enables decisions about the potential outcomes in a more considered way.

Shared decision making and risk communication

The Commission, in collaboration with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), has produced an online module for doctors on shared decision making and risk communication.  The module, Helping patients make informed decisions: communicating benefits and harms, is available to RACGP members via the RACGP’s website.

The Commission is also working with a steering group to develop adapted versions of the online module for specialist colleges.

Contact us

Lucia Tapsall, Senior Project Officer


Dr Heather Buchan, Director, Implementation Support



Shared Decision Making Symposium

Developing tools and skills for clinical practice

Video presentations by Professor Dawn Stacey

Recorded during Professor Stacey’s visit to Australia in October 2014

Shared Decision Making and Patient Decision Aid Workshop

Shared Decision Making and Patient Decision Aid Workshop Sydney, 10 October 2014

The Use of Shared Decision Making and Patient Decision Aids in Practice

A workshop for clinicians, medical educators, carer & consumer advocates, health services and policy makers