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Psychiatr Serv. 2009 Aug;60(8):1107-12. doi: 10.1176/

Psychiatrists' use of shared decision making in the treatment of schizophrenia: patient characteristics and decision topics.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Technische Universität München, Möhlstrasse 26, 81675 München, Germany.



Shared decision making is advocated as a way of involving patients in medical decisions, but it can be achieved only when both patients and physicians commit to sharing decisions. This study explored psychiatrists' views of shared decision making in schizophrenia treatment.


A structured questionnaire was given to 352 psychiatrists at the 2007 congress of the German Society of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Nervous Diseases to determine their self-reported decision-making styles. Approximately half of the psychiatrists (N=181) were then asked to rate how 19 patient characteristics would influence whether they would share in decision making, and the other half (N=171) were asked whether 19 decision topics would be suitable for shared decision making.


Of the 352 participating psychiatrists, 51% reported regularly applying shared decision making, but decision-making styles were tailored to individual patients and decision topics. Shared decision making was seen as useful for well-informed and compliant patients and for those who currently dislike their antipsychotic, but it was not seen as useful in cases of potentially reduced decisional capacity. Psychosocial matters (for example, work therapy, future housing, and psychotherapy) were considered more suitable for shared decision making than were medical and legal decisions (for example, hospitalization, prescription of antipsychotics, and diagnostic procedures).


It should be clarified whether and how patients with schizophrenia can be empowered and educated so they can share important treatment decisions.

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