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Tips For How to Invite Your Patients Into a Shared Decision Making Conversation

Inviting Your Patient Into the Decision-Making Process

Many people may not realize that when it comes to medical decisions, there may be more than one choice. Providers should inform patients that they have a choice, and they can share the things that are most important to them. It is essential for them to know that being a part of the decision-making process can be a more beneficial experience that has been proven to lead to better health outcomes.

Patient Benefits of Shared Decision Making:

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  • Improves patient outcomes
  • Patients report more satisfying interactions with their care team
  • Improves sense of wellbeing
  • Increases self-esteem, independence and control
  • Adapts faster to illness

Potential Ways to Empower Your Patients and Start a Shared Decision Making Conversation:

Engaging patients in decision making can begin with a simple invitation, welcoming them into the process. Without an invitation, patients may remain uninvolved. They may not realize that there is a decision to be made, that they can take an active role, or they may be worried or intimidated about speaking up.

In other words, it may be up to you to initiate this conversation and invite the patient to participate.

Conversation Starters:

“We have a decision to make about your care, and I’d like to make it with you. Knowing what’s important to you will help us make a better decision together.”


“Sometimes things in medicine aren’t as black and white as some people think. Let’s work together so we can come up with a decision that’s right for you.”


“We need to make a decision about your treatment (or testing). I’m going to go over your options with you, including the risks and benefits of each one, and then we can figure out which option we both think is the right one for you, okay?"

This resource was created through a collaboration between Patient Empowerment Network and Empowered Health, a partnership between the CDC Foundation and Amgen Oncology, with technical support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


  • Elwyn G, Frosch D, Thomson R, Joseph-Williams N, Lloyd A, Kinnersley P, Cording E, Tomson D, Dodd C, Rollnick S, Edwards A, Barry M. Shared decision making: a model for clinical practice. J Gen Intern Med. 2012 Oct;27(10):1361-7. doi: 10.1007/s11606-012-2077-6. Epub 2012 May 23. PMID: 22618581; PMCID: PMC3445676.

  • Bomhof-Roordink H, Gärtner FR, Stiggelbout AM, Pieterse AH. Key components of shared decision making models: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2019 Dec 17;9(12):e031763. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031763. PMID: 31852700; PMCID: PMC6937101.

  • Faiman B, Tariman JD. Shared Decision Making: Improving Patient Outcomes by Understanding the Benefits of and Barriers to Effective Communication. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2019 Oct 1;23(5):540-542. doi: 10.1188/19.CJON.540-542. PMID: 31538972