Exploring the attitudes & practices of shared decision-making for CT scan use in emergency department patients with abdominal pain

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Background:Shared decision-making (SDM) has been studied in the emergency department (ED) in relation to hospital admissions but not for CT scan utilization. CT scans are a common imaging modality with high accuracy that emit considerable ionizing radiation. This study has three aims: to measure provider and patient preference for SDM; to evaluate patient involvement in the decision to order a CT scan; and to determine the association between patient involvement and CT utilization.Methods:In this prospective study, stable ED patients with abdominal pain with CT imaging as a likely diagnostic tool, were screened and consented. The Control Preferences Scale assessed patient and provider baseline decision-making preference. Using the OPTION-5 tool, providers were assessed in each encounter for the extent to which they engaged patients in discussions. The association between the Control Preferences Scale, the OPTION-5 score and ultimate CT utilization was evaluated.Results:Twenty-nine encounters were observed. CT was considered in 70% (n = 20) of encounters and ordered in 55% (n = 16). 62% of patients and 59% of providers reported that they prefer “shared responsibility” when making treatment decisions. In >80% of encounters, provider's showed no or minimal effort when discussing whether to perform a CT scan. Provider or patient preference was not associated with patient involvement. Patient involvement was not associated with CT utilization.Conclusions:High rates of provider and patient preference to use SDM for treatment plans were reported but providers were rarely observed engaging patients with abdominal pain in the decision to order a CT scan.

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