Shared decision making

What is shared decision making?

  • Shared decision making ensures that you are supported to make decisions about your care that are right for you.
  • It involves a conversation between your doctor or nurse and you. 
  • Tests and treatments are chosen based on the healthcare professionals knowledge and expertise and your individual preferences, beliefs and values. 
  • The conversation should include a discussion about the risks and benefits of any treatment or test.

When is shared decision making used?

Shared decision making is suitable in any situation when there: 

  • Is more than one reasonable course of action (e.g. more than one treatment option) and 
  • Where no one option is best.
Why shared decison making matters infographic

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

NICE provides guidance on:

  • How different conditions should be treated
  • What treatments should be made available.
  • Learn more about NICE and what they do by visiting their website.


What nice say about shared decision making

Making informed choices about your treatment - Tony's top tips


Watch this short animation to learn some valuable tips on shared decision making.


A patient's experience of shared decison making

Listen to Frank, who has been treated for prostate cancer, talk to Colin from NHS England, about his experience of shared decision making.

  • Frank also talks about his experience of being involved with a clinical trial called the STAMINA trial (Supported exercise training for men with prostate cancer on androgen deprivation therapy). This trial is now closed.
  • Visit our page on clinical trials to learn more about clinical trials. 
  • You can also use our clinical trial finder to look for a trial that is suitable for you.

Social prescribing.

  • Colin spoke about social prescribing. 
  • Social prescribing is defined as:

 ‘Connecting people to activities, groups, and support that improve health and wellbeing’ (National Academy for social prescribing). 

  • Social prescribing can include physical activity like gym classes, pilates or yoga
  • It may mean joining a local walking or gardening group. 
  • Art classes, or crafting can also be ‘prescribed’. 
  • Ask about social prescribing at your GP surgery. They often have a link worker who you can speak to. 
  • Visit the National Academy for social prescribing webpage for more information on social prescribing (the link will open in a new tab). 

Can I ask for a second opinion?

  • If you want a second opinion, your consultant may be able to refer you to a different specialist within that hospital trust. 
  • However, you may have to go back to your GP. This is so they can make an appointment with a consultant from another trust.
  • There is also the option of getting an opinion from a private specialist. If you do decide to take this route. Make sure you do your research and look for recommendations. 
  • The process of getting a second opinion may take time. This may delay your treatment. It is a good idea to discuss with your healthcare team any implications of delaying your care. 
  • Macmillan Cancer Support have a webpage that tells you more about getting a second opinion. 
  • Maggie’s cancer charity explain the advantages and disadvantages of asking for a second opinion. 



Tools to help you make a decision about your treatment

  • Our infopool explore treatments tool allows you to explore treatment types or use the "compare" buttons to view methods side by side.
  • Our infopool understanding treatment choices tool. This treatment tool aims to help you do four things:
    • Understand your possible treatment choices
    • Compare these treatments
    • Find out more about any treatment
    • Discover what might happen if the cancer keeps growing after treatment.Please note:
  • The treatments shown may not always apply to you. 
  • Your choice may be limited because of the nature of your cancer. 
  • This includes how likely it is that the cancer will grow quickly or spread, or whether it has spread already. 
  • Your choice may also be affected by your fitness levels and other existing health problems.
  • The treatments shown are also currently only those which have been approved for use on the NHS in England and Wales. 
  • Treatments are mostly the same on the NHS in Scotland and Northern Ireland but there may be some small differences. Where a treatment is not available in all four countries we will say so.
  • There may also be other treatments which are available privately or on clinical trials which are not listed here.



What's next?

Use the infopool tools to:

Understand your treatment choices

Learn about the different treatment choices you may have

Compare your treatment options

Compare different treatments side by side

Find clinical trials near me

Find clinical trials that might be right for you

"…I was hugely impressed with the amount of information I was given, and also the chance to speak with both surgical and medical specialists regarding my options."

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