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.

Communicating Risk

Health decisions often have no single ‘best choice’ and require choosing from multiple options. For patients (and carers) to understand risks and have the opportunity to actively be involved in sharing decisions, clinicians need to provide relevant and clear information about treatment options, and the potential benefits, risks, trade-offs and uncertainties of each. This information should reflect the best available evidence and take into account the patient’s personal opinions, preferences, values and priorities.

E-learning module

To support clinicians develop and refine their skills in communicating effectively about the benefits and risks of treatment options with patients, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has developed a 2-hour e-learning module: Helping Patients Make Informed Decisions: Communicating benefits and risks.

Prior to releasing the open access version of the module, the Commission, in collaboration with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), produced an online module for doctors on shared decision making and risk communication.  The module is available to RACGP members via the RACGP’s website.

Short videos

Three short videos for clinicians on shared decision making have also been developed. These provide an overview on shared decision makingchallenge myths about shared decision making in practice and explain how to use patient decision aids and where to find them.

Together the module and videos promote shared decision making and risk communication in practice, enabling clinicians and patients to work together to share in decision making.

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Decision Support Tools for patients

The Commission has produced decision support tools for patients on antibiotic use and osteoarthritis of the knee.

Resources and publications

Resources and publications on shared decision making.

Webinars on Shared Decision Making

The Commission has produced a series of webinars featuring experts in Shared Decision Making and Patient Decision Aids.