What is shared decision making?
As the name suggests, shared decision making is the process by which service users are partners in the decisions that are made about their care.
Shared decision making is promoted in research and policy as an aim for contemporary healthcare practice. This is in response to calls from service users for greater information and involvement in all areas of healthcare. However, research has also shown that shared decision making and increased participation can lead to improved outcomes for patients.
In this resource we will explore how shared decision making applies to mental health services and the implications that it can have for your own practice.
What does it mean?
When you think about shared decision making in mental health, what words and images come to mind?
Some have described it like building a jigsaw, where everyone gets to bring their own pieces along to fit together.
Try this exercise to build your own jigsaw here. Click the “Add Jigsaw Piece” button and provide a label (label it with something that comes to mind when you think of shared decision-making), then click the “Add To Jigsaw” button to see your new peice added to your jigsaw.
You can return to this reflective exercise throughout this resource to add to it and edit it, before you print it out if you want to as a record of your learning.
Key challenges to shared decision making
As these experiences highlight, shared decision making in mental health is more complex than in other areas of healthcare, at least at first sight. At times, people with mental health problems can be perceived as making unwise choices. This can make it difficult for health care workers to support the individuals’ preference. Two key issues are often cited by healthcare workers when giving their reasons for non-involvement of service users in shared decision-making. The first is legislation and the second is a lack of insight.