Patients felt limited to certain ways of speaking with their doctors, and many believed they were best served by acting as « supplicants » toward the doctor « who knows best, » according to a new study.
Many also believed that they could depend only on themselves for getting more information about treatments or diseases. Some even said they feared retribution by doctors who could ultimately affect their care and how they did.
Systemic changes to increase shared decision-making must be addressed as well. Care organizations and doctors’ practices must be restructured to allow more in-depth conversations; clinicians need to be reimbursed for the time required for more meaningful conversations; and health care systems must adopt rigorous quality standards that measure and value real patient engagement in decisions.
“We urgently need support of shared decision-making that is more than just rhetoric,” Dr. Frosch said. “It may take a little longer to talk through decisions and disagreements; but if we empower patients to make informed choices, we will all do much better in the long run.”