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Chronic Illn. 2009 Sep;5(3):165-76. doi: 10.1177/1742395309339258. Epub 2009 Aug 12.

Physicians' participatory decision-making and quality of diabetes care processes and outcomes: results from the triad study.

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  • 1Veterans Affairs Center for Practice Management and Outcomes Research, VA Ann Arbor Health System, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.



In participatory decision-making (PDM), physicians actively engage patients in treatment and other care decisions. Patients who report that their physicians engage in PDM have better disease self-management and health outcomes. We examined whether physicians' diabetes-specific treatment PDM preferences as well as their self-reported practices are associated with the quality of diabetes care their patients receive.


2003 cross-sectional survey and medical record review of a random sample of diabetes patients (n=4198) in 10 US health plans across the country and their physicians (n=1217). We characterized physicians' diabetes care PDM preferences and practices as 'no patient involvement,' 'physician-dominant,' 'shared,' or 'patient-dominant' and conducted multivariate analyses examining their effects on the following: (1) three diabetes care processes (annual hemoglobin A1c test; lipid test; and dilated retinal exam); (2) patients'satisfaction with physician communication; and (3) whether patients' A1c, systolic blood pressure (SBP), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) were in control.


Most physicians preferred 'shared' PDM (58%) rather than 'no patient involvement' (9%), 'physician-dominant' (28%) or 'patient dominant' PDM (5%). However, most reported practicing 'physician-dominant' PDM (43%) with most of their patients, rather than 'no patient involvement' (13%), 'shared' (37%) or 'patient-dominant' PDM (7%). After adjusting for patient and physician-level characteristics and clustering by health plan, patients of physicians who preferred 'shared' PDM were more likely to receive A1c tests [90% vs. 82%, AOR: 2.05, 95% CI: 1.03-3.07] and patients of physicians who preferred 'patient-dominant' treatment decision-making were more likely to receive lipid tests [60% vs. 50%, AOR: 1.58, 95% CI: 1.04-2.39] than those of providers who preferred 'no patient involvement' in treatment decision-making. There were no differences in patients' satisfaction with their doctor's communication or control of A1c, SBP or LDL depending on their physicians' PDM preferences. Physicians' self-reported PDM practices were not associated with any of the examined aspects of diabetes care in multivariate analyses.


Patients whose physicians prefer more patient involvement in decision-making are more likely than patients whose physicians prefer more physician-directed styles to receive some recommended risk factor screening tests, an important first step toward improved diabetes outcomes. Involving patients in treatment decision-making alone, however, appears not to be sufficient to improve biomedical outcomes.

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