Clinical decision-making: physicians' preferences and experiences

BMC Fam Pract. 2007 Mar 15;8:10. doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-8-10.


Background: Shared decision-making has been advocated; however there are relatively few studies on physician preferences for, and experiences of, different styles of clinical decision-making as most research has focused on patient preferences and experiences. The objectives of this study were to determine 1) physician preferences for different styles of clinical decision-making; 2) styles of clinical decision-making physicians perceive themselves as practicing; and 3) the congruence between preferred and perceived style. In addition we sought to determine physician perceptions of the availability of time in visits, and their role in encouraging patients to look for health information.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. physicians.

Results: 1,050 (53% response rate) physicians responded to the survey. Of these, 780 (75%) preferred to share decision-making with their patients, 142 (14%) preferred paternalism, and 118 (11%) preferred consumerism. 87% of physicians perceived themselves as practicing their preferred style. Physicians who preferred their patients to play an active role in decision-making were more likely to report encouraging patients to look for information, and to report having enough time in visits.

Conclusion: Physicians tend to perceive themselves as practicing their preferred role in clinical decision-making. The direction of the association cannot be inferred from these data; however, we suggest that interventions aimed at promoting shared decision-making need to target physicians as well as patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician's Role
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Perception
  • Time Factors
  • United States