Shared Decision Making: The Pinnacle of Patient-Centered Care

In 1988, researchers from the Harvard Medical School, on behalf of the Pickler Institute, developed the model known as the Eight Dimensions of Patient-Centered Care. The model challenges clinicians to cultivate a better understanding of a patient’s illness and address their needs. Secondary to knowledge gain, patients are viewed as equals to clinicians when making decisions about their healthcare.

A component of patient-centered care includes the concept of shared decision making or a process where patients work alongside their clinicians to make decisions about their treatments and care plans. Clinical evidence is reviewed to weigh the risks and outcomes associated with the decisions keeping a focus on the patient’s preferences and values. Benefits that come from patients engaging in the shared decision process include understanding their health along with the pros and cons of different options, being better prepared to collaborate with their healthcare team, and most importantly they are more likely to follow through on their decisions. For more information and tools on shared decision making, visit the New England Journal of Medicine at and the National Learning Consortium at