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CMAJ. 2012 Sep 18;184(13):E726-34. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.120568. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Training family physicians in shared decision-making to reduce the overuse of antibiotics in acute respiratory infections: a cluster randomized trial.

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  • 1Research Centre of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec, Québec, Canada.



Few interventions have proven effective in reducing the overuse of antibiotics for acute respiratory infections. We evaluated the effect of DECISION+2, a shared decision-making training program, on the percentage of patients who decided to take antibiotics after consultation with a physician or resident.


We performed a randomized trial, clustered at the level of family practice teaching unit, with 2 study arms: DECISION+2 and control. The DECISION+2 training program included a 2-hour online tutorial followed by a 2-hour interactive seminar about shared decision-making. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who decided to use antibiotics immediately after consultation. We also recorded patients' perception that shared decision-making had occurred. Two weeks after the initial consultation, we assessed patients' adherence to the decision, repeat consultation, decisional regret and quality of life.


We compared outcomes among 181 patients who consulted 77 physicians in 5 family practice teaching units in the DECISION+2 group, and 178 patients who consulted 72 physicians in 4 family practice teaching units in the control group. The percentage of patients who decided to use antibiotics after consultation was 52.2% in the control group and 27.2% in the DECISION+2 group (absolute difference 25.0%, adjusted relative risk 0.48, 95% confidence interval 0.34-0.68). DECISION+2 was associated with patients taking a more active role in decision-making (Z = 3.9, p < 0.001). Patient outcomes 2 weeks after consultation were similar in both groups.


The shared decision-making program DECISION+2 enhanced patient participation in decision-making and led to fewer patients deciding to use antibiotics for acute respiratory infections. This reduction did not have a negative effect on patient outcomes 2 weeks after consultation. trial register no. NCT01116076.

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