Project Description

Shared Decision Making (SDM) is a communication technique where the patient and clinician actively participate to make decisions together. In SDM, a clinician provides information about the risks and benefits of a test or intervention and the patient shares their personal values and preferences.  SDM applies to situations where there is no single “right” decision.

This training module will help you more efficiently and effectively to use SDM with your patients.  Although the materials in this module focus on cancer screening examples, the SDM techniques you learn here can be applied to any situation where patients have more than one medically reasonable choice.

Training Curriculum

View a 20 minute video, Shared Decision Making in Cancer Screening, that provides an overview of SDM communication techniques, guidance and strategies that you can use in your daily practice!

Download our helpful SDM training handouts (PDF)including tips for effective SDM conversations, sample phrases to use with your patients, strategies for communicating risks and benefits, and instructions on how to use patient decision aid tools.

C.O.D.How can a fish help you remember SDM?

The training introduces three essential communication elements of SDM with an easy to remember acronym – COD!

  • Choice talk, which invites the patient to a choice and explains that decisions will be made together;
  • Option talk, which provides pros and cons, uses the embedded decision aid tool and checks patient understanding;
  • Decision talk, which elicits patient preferences and arranges next steps.

COD Reference: Elwyn G, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2012; 27(10): 1361 – 1367


Put SDM to Use with Your Patients!

View the set of short videos demonstrating three frequently encountered SDM situations.

“My Mind is Made Up”

“Tell Me What to Do”

“Let’s Talk About It”

Patient Decision Aids

Patient decision aids can be a helpful tool for SDM.  They have been shown to improve patient knowledge of options and provide more accurate expectation of harms and benefits.  The use of decision aids also helps patients better clarify what matters. Reference: Stacey D, Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2017

HealthDecision® provides free patient decision aids that can be used in a variety of SDM conversations – including breast and lung cancer screening, use of blood pressure medication for hypertension, use of statins for cardiovascular risk, use of anticoagulants for atrial fibrillation and more.

For UW Health employees, HealthDecision® SDM tools are embedded in Epic HealthLink – download our SDM training handouts (PDF), for instructions to access these tools.


Practice Makes Perfect!

Download our role play activity (PDF) and practice with your colleagues.


Help us Improve

After you have reviewed this training module, please take our 5-minute assessment and evaluation survey.


More Free Resources

Download a free related resource from HIPxChange: Breast Cancer Screening Shared Decision Making Toolkit


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