Decision Coach

Role of a Decision Coach

A decision coach is a skilled health professional who supports the patient’s involvement in health care decision making but does not make the decision for the patient (O’Connor et al., 2008). The decision coach has also been defined as a facilitator and a knowledge broker (Myers, 2005; Woolf et al., 2005). Overall the decision coach is an adjunct to the clinical consultation and assists patients to be active participants in shared decision making.

They are able to facilitate patient understanding of the evidence and prepare patients to discuss their preferences with clinicians and important others in the decision-making process. Studies indicate that patients exposed to decision coaches achieve higher quality decisions and are satisfied with the process of decision-making.

A Decision Coach will:

  • Develop patients’ skills in deliberating about options, preparing for a consultation, & implementing change.
  • Facilitate access to evidence-based information.
  • Be supportive, neutral and non-directive.
  • Clarify decision and monitor needs.
  • Verify understanding, clarify values, build skills in deliberation, communication, and accessing support.
  • Monitor and facilitate progress in decision making and decision quality.

Key elements involved in decision coaching
(Myers, 2005: Stacey et al.,2008; Woolf et all., 2005)

  • Assess factors influencing patient decision-making
  • Assess patient understanding of options and evidence
  • Clarify patient’s preferred option
  • Discuss patients’ decision support needs and resources
  • Determine patients preferred role
  • Provide educational resources, including patient decision aids
  • Encourage patient selection of preferred option
  • Coach patients to discuss preferences with clinician(s)
  • Screen/plan for barriers to implementation
  • Monitor and facilitate progress in decision-making

The Consultation

Individual expectation of a consultation will differ from one individual to another, depending on whether the individual wishes to adopt a dependent, leading or participating role in the decision making. 

The Benefits of a Decision Coach

There are benefits for both patients and health professionals. Professionals see the process as a means of managing consultations more effectively. Patient satisfaction with consultations increases when health professionals involve them in decision-making.

Other benefits that patients perceive are greater confidence, reduction in anxiety, greater understanding of personal needs, improved trust, better relationships with professionals, and positive health effects. 

Book an appointment with a Decision Coach

During your clinical appointment, remember to ask:

  • What are my options for treatment?
  • What are the benefits, risks and harm? 
  • How do these apply to my own condition?
  • Where can I find more information to help me decide?

To book your appointment contact:

Bonnie Wooten, RN, BA, MPA
Decision Coach/Project Lead SDM Pilot
Pediatric Neurology
Email: decisioncoach@lhsc.on.ca
Telephone: 519 685-8500 ext. 58207

Coaching appointments are available in a variety of ways:

  • In-Person (Individual or Group)
  • Telephone or Telehealth
  • Email

Everyone benefits when patients and their caregivers are well-informed and play a primary role in deciding how to treat or manage their own health conditions. Know your options and make the right choice for you.