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Why & How Doctors Should Foster Shared Decision Making with Patients

During the ACR/ARPH 2017 Annual Meeting, presenters from the department of social work at HSS discussed the importance of shared decision making between patients and physicians, The Rheumatologist reports.

Jillian Rose, LCSW, MPH, assistant director at HSS, discussed the value of incorporating the patient's perspective into the conversation about their treatment.

According to the article, considering what matters to the patient can lead to better patient outcomes, a better understanding of their condition, reduced anxiety, increased satisfaction with treatment decisions and greater willingness to undergo treatment.

"With the move toward more patient autonomy and the explosion of technology, patients are having conversations about their healthcare decisions on social media, with Facebook friends, on Twitter chats and with peers. If we don't involve the patient [in the conversation], we'll be left out of providing invaluable information to our patients that can influence their care and lead to better outcomes," said Rose.

"The first step in achieving shared decision making with patients is checking our own biases to ensure we are not unconsciously making recommendations based on our agenda, values and stereotypes," Rose added.

HSS social worker and senior manager of the Inflammatory Arthritis Support and Education Programs Adena Batterman, MSW, LCSW, encouraged providers to create an environment of empathic care as the foundation of shared decision making. She advised that clinicians should take part in mindfulness training, which is a way of thinking that enhances focus and clarity despite the pressures of a busy day to help physicians listen more carefully to their patients.

Joan Westreich, LCSW, social work coordinator of the Early Arthritis Initiative at HSS, noted that depression, anxiety and other mental health issues can impact patient-provider communication.

Westreich added that a diagnostic interview is imperative for assessing mental health issues to give physicians a better sense of when to refer patients for a mental health consult.

Read the full article at the-rheumatologist.org