If It’s Shared Decision Making, Who Decides?

Who decides about my treatment?

Your doctors will give you information and advice about treatment. And then it’s your choice. You can say "Yes" to treatments you want. You can say "No" to any treatment that you don't want.

How do I know what I want?

Your doctor’s role is to tell you about your medical condition and about what different treatments can do for you. Many treatments have side effects, or problems they can cause. Your doctor can offer you information about which treatments are available to you, but the choice is yours to make and depends on what is important to you.

Can other people help with my decisions?

Yes. People often turn to their family and close friends for help in making medical decisions. Talking with others can help you think about important choices you face. You can ask the doctors and nurses to talk with your relatives and friends, and your family and friends can ask questions, as well.

Can my cultural or religious values play a part in my decision?

Yes. Your cultural or religious values are important. While some Patient Decision Aids ask directly about religious beliefs or cultural values, most decision aids address these concerns through their general discussion of what values matter to the patient in making his or her treatment decisions.

Many hospitals have translators for patients who are more comfortable speaking in a language other than English and some even can provide “cultural navigators” who can act as intermediaries between the patient and the health care team. Patients or their families should not be shy about asking for these services and if the patient decision aid is available in their preferred language.

The Ottawa Research Institute in Ontario, Canada has a helpful personal decision guide for any health-related decision that you can access here. It is available in English, French, Swedish, Dutch, Danish Norwegian, Spanish, German, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese.