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Br J Gen Pract. 2005 Jan;55(510):6-13.

Shared decision making and risk communication in practice: a qualitative study of GPs' experiences.

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Department of Primary Care, Swansea Clinical School, University of Wales Swansea, Wales SA2 8PP.



Important barriers to the wider implementation of shared decision making remain. The experiences of professionals who are skilled in this approach may identify how to overcome these barriers.


To identify the experiences and views of professionals skilled in shared decision making and risk communication, exploring the opportunities and challenges for implementation.


Qualitative study.


Gwent Health Authority.


Exit interviews using focus group methodology with 20 GPs who had been in practice between 1 and 10 years, and participated in an explanatory trial lasting 6 months. The trial interventions comprised training in shared decision-making skills and the use of risk communication materials. The doctors consulted with up to 48 patients each (mean = 40, half of them audiotaped) for the study.


The GPs indicated positive attitudes towards involving patients and described positive effects on their consultations. However, the frequency of applying the new skills and tools was limited outside the trial. Doctors were selective about when they felt greater patient involvement was appropriate and feasible, rather than seeking to apply the approaches to the majority of consultations. They felt they often responded to consumer preferences for low levels of involvement in decision making. Time limitations were important in not implementing the approach more widely.


The promotion of 'patient involvement' appears likely to continue. Professionals appear receptive to this, and willing to acquire the relevant skills. Strategies for wider implementation of patient involvement could address how consultations are scheduled in primary care, and raise consumers' expectations or desires for involvement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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