Features March 2010 Issue

Shared Decisions: A Give-and-Take Approach to Addressing Arthritis Pain

Take the time you need—and get the information you want—before deciding on a treatment plan.

In the past few years, a new approach to doctor-patient interaction has emerged, in which both the patient and health-care professional share information and jointly decide on a course of treatment. The approach, called shared decision making, allows patients to take more responsibility for their care by becoming better informed about their illness and the available treatments. A study in the November 2009 issue of Arthritis Care & Research suggests that increasing patients’ responsibility for making medical decisions may make them less willing to accept risky treatment options. The authors found that when patients learned about the side effects of a new medication, they were not as willing to take the drug when given a choice than if a physician simply wrote a prescription for it.

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