Physicians' perceptions of shared decision-making behaviours: A qualitative study demonstrating the continued chasm between aspirations and clinical practice

Rachel Zeuner, Dominick L. Frosch, Marie D. Kuzemchak, Mary C. Politi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Shared Decision Making (SDM) is a process of engaging patients in health decisions that involve multiple medically appropriate treatment options. Despite growing public and policy support for patient engagement in health decisions, SDM is not widely practiced in clinical settings. Objective: The purpose of our study was to explore clinicians' attitudes, beliefs and perceived social norms about engaging in SDM behaviours. Design: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with physicians in five practice areas. Setting and participants: This study was conducted at an academic medical centre in St. Louis, MO. The final sample included 20 physicians: five surgeons, five OB/GYNs, four medical oncologists, five internists and one emergency medicine physician. Results: Clinicians described a number of beliefs and cultural- and system-level obstacles to the widespread implementation of SDM, such as how to engage in discussions of cost, uncertainty and clinical equipoise and how to engage patients across various socioeconomic backgrounds. Conclusion: Although a large number of participants expressed general support for incorporating SDM into practice, most held fundamentally inconsistent beliefs about practicing specific SDM behaviours. More extensive training of physicians at all levels (pre- and post-licensure) can help increase clinicians' confidence in SDM skills. Developing methods of integrating SDM into the institutional framework of hospitals and training programmes could also increase clinicians' motivation to practice SDM and work to change the culture of medicine such that SDM behaviours are supported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2465-2476
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Expectations
Volume18
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Keywords

  • Patient preferences
  • Patient-centred care
  • Patient-clinician communication
  • Shared decision making

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