According the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation shared decision making (SDM) is a collaborative process that allows patients and their providers to make health care decisions together, taking into account the best scientific evidence available, as well as the patient’s values and preferences. March is Shared Decision Making month.
I have written extensively about the relationships and behavior among a person’s health team as it impacts the course and experience of the health journey. The team – patient, caregivers, clinicians, loved ones, and helpers – set goals, research options, select treatment, share information, coordinate, celebrate, grieve, and wait together. Shared decision making is part of team work. Some of us are better than others at team work. As with any skill or habit, there are environmental, cultural, genetic, and situational aspects to team work. Some of us are born leaders, others born followers. It’s hard to follow sometimes when you’re a born leader. We may have families and communities that make up our team members. It’s easier to be a team when a critical mass of the team has experience together as a team – managing health, managing life. It’s often luck whether the professional available in time of need is a good team member. Careful selection – expecting the clinician to be a team member – can’t be done when the s**t hits the fan. It’s way easier to establish good team work habits before acute illness. Team work, like sports, depends on a level of physical and mental fitness (tough when sick), needs practice to choreograph the team, and experience in the game to become better at it. There’s no time like the present to start.