Your Role in Shared Decision Making

You are the most important member of your health care team. What you value matters most of all. And every decision that you make about your health care strikes a balance.

Carefully considering all your options is especially important in these types of situations:

  • When there is more than one option, such as treatment for low-back pain or obesity
  • When no one option has a clear advantage
  • When the possible benefits and risks of each option affect you differently

When you are facing a health care decision, take the time to talk through each of your options with your doctor. Ask questions before you arrive at a decision that works for you. Often, there is no single “right” health care decision. Choices about treatment, medical tests and health issues come with pros and cons.

Your doctor should give you information about your options, listen to your concerns and respect your decision. Research shows that when patients help make decisions and understand what they need to do, they are more likely to follow through.

Weigh the benefits, risks and costs―physical, emotional and financial―and then make a choice.