Shared decision making is an integral part of healthcare, says NICE

Shared decision making between patients and clinicians should be embedded throughout healthcare services, says NICE, in draft guidance published today.

The guideline recommends a range of measures to help ensure that patients are involved in decision making around their care. It also calls on health and social care organisations to provide accessible information during care planning, using translators and external advocates when necessary.

Professor Gillian Leng, NICE chief executive, said: “We have always advocated for patients’ involvement in the planning of their care, as an essential part of the healthcare process.

“It is our hope that these recommendations on the steps that patients, staff and organisations can take will make shared decision making the standard in healthcare practice.”

The new guideline offers advice on how to engage patients in the shared decision making process before, during, and after appointments, through honest conversation. The use of posters and patient decision aid leaflets are recommended to help the process. The guideline suggests that, where possible, organisations consider appointing a patient director to support the embedding of shared decision making at the highest level of the organisation, and to help ensure the voice of service users is heard.

The guideline also includes recommendations on policy, training and healthcare delivery to help organisations improve staff awareness of the importance of patient involvement, and ensure they are willing and able to embed shared decision making in organisational culture and practices.  

Outlining the importance of discussing the risks, benefits and consequences of treatment options, the guideline also offers advice on how healthcare practitioners can clearly convey information to patients so that they can make an educated decision on their care plan.

consultation on the draft recommendations is now open, with stakeholders offered the opportunity to comment until 09 February 2021.