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Shared Decision Making: Informing and Involving Patients to Do the Right Thing in Health Care

Barry, Michael J. MD

Journal of Ambulatory Care Management: April/June 2012 - Volume 35 - Issue 2 - p 90–98
doi: 10.1097/JAC.0b013e318249482f
Original Articles

At the individual level, practicing high-quality medical care means doing the right thing for a patient as safely as possible. Some medical decisions have one optimal course of action, but most have multiple reasonable options with outcomes that will be valued differently by different people. For these preference-sensitive decisions, involving patients in a shared decision-making process is critical. Patient decision aids are tools that help make shared decision making practical. Policy changes at the federal and state level can help make shared decision making with the active participation of informed patients the rule rather than the exception.

Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Correspondence: Michael J. Barry, MD, Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, 40 Court Street, Suite 300, Boston, MA 02108 (

Michael J. Barry receives salary as president of the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, a not-for-profit (501 (c)3) private foundation ( The Foundation develops content for patient decision support programs. The Foundation has an arrangement with a for-profit company, Health Dialog, to coproduce these programs. The programs are used as part of the decision support and disease management services Health Dialog provides to consumers through health care organizations and employers.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.