Shared decision making: evaluation of German medical students' preferences

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Abstract

Rationale

Current medical student perceptions of patient centredness and the priorities of students for a change in medical care were investigated.

Methods

We conducted an observational study using questionnaires at the University of Leipzig in Germany. In total, 188 consecutive medical students attending the Department of General Medicine participated in this study. We investigated students' priorities for an improvement in medical care related to aspects of the patient–doctor relationship and to aspects of organization.

Results

Receiving more information and undergoing the process of shared decision making was the most important choice; selected by 43.2% as their first priority. The second choice was found to be consultation time (16.2%) which also refers to the patient–doctor relationship. Shorter queues for tests, also considered important for more patient autonomy, were ranked third (14.6%). Medical students participating in this study were least interested in access to specialists, cost of medications and continuity of care.

Conclusion

For the first time, it is shown that shared decision making, in addition to its many benefits, is not only a patients', but also a prospective doctors' top priority. Consequently, medical student training programmes might incorporate shared decision-making training as an important element of patient centredness.

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