Most people want to be involved in making decisions about their health care and often in a shared role. Shared decision making is when decisions are made by health care professionals and patients together. It recognizes the expertise of each participant. Health care professionals are experts in diagnosing the problem and identifying options, benefits, harms, probabilities and scientific uncertainties. Patients are the experts in understanding their personal circumstances and in judging the value or personal importance they attach to the benefits, risks and uncertainties of options. (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa Decision Support Tutorial.)
Why is decision support so important?
We believe that if you are involved in decision making, every step along the way, that you feel;
- An increased satisfaction with your decision
- Increased sense of well-being
- Decreased levels of anxiety and depression
- Delayed disease progression
- Increased quality of life.
How do I engage in Decision Support?
Being aware of how ready you feel to make a decision or change will help you engage in decision support.
As you think about making decisions and changes in your life it might be helpful to understand the process of making change. The Stages of Change models shown below, illustrate that, for most persons, a change in behavior occurs gradually, starting with being uninterested, unaware or unwilling to make a change (precontemplation), to considering a change (contemplation), to deciding and preparing to make a change. Genuine, determined action is then taken and, over time, attempts to maintain the new behavior occur. Relapses are almost inevitable and become part of the process of working toward lifelong change.
Being aware of where you are along this continuum will help you to engage with your healthcare team. You will be more open to and gain more from:
• hearing about realistic expectations when choosing a treatment option
• meeting with the multidisciplinary team
• increasing your knowledge about your options.
Unlike with many other medical conditions, you play a significant role in choosing your treatment for kidney failure. The Canadian Kidney Knowledge Translation and Generation Network has created a decision aid for the treatment of kidney disease that has been especially designed to guide you through making that choice.
An important part of decision making is self-management skills. Being a self-manager of your own health care is as simple as actively participating in your own health. Simple, but not always easy or natural. To read more about self management in a chronic illness please refer to our self management section, where you can find clear and concise education and information on “how to” be a self manager.