Is Shared Decision Making a Utopian Dream or an Achievable Goal?

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Abstract

The idea of shared decision making (SDM) between patient and physician grew out of a generalized challenge to traditional social hierarchies that occurred in the middle of the last century. Governments have espoused SDM, thousands of articles about it have been published, and evidence has shown that it improves some of the healthcare processes as well as patient outcomes. Yet it has not been widely adopted. From their cross-disciplinary perspective (practical theology and clinical medicine), the authors locate this reluctance in the unfolding of scientific paradigm shifts, summarize the perceived risks and benefits of SDM and the evidence for each, and suggest practical, achievable approaches for clinicians. Finally, they explore some important emerging territories for SDM.

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