Evidence Based Medicine and Shared Decision Making: the challenge of getting both evidence and preferences into health care

Patient Educ Couns. 2008 Dec;73(3):407-12. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2008.07.054. Epub 2008 Oct 8.


Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) and Shared Medical Decision Making (SDM) are changing the nature of health care decisions. It is broadly accepted that health care decisions require the integration of research evidence and individual preferences. These approaches are justified on both efficacy grounds (that evidence based practice and Shared Decision Making should lead to better health outcomes and may lead to a more cost-effective use of health care resources) and ethical grounds (patients' autonomy should be respected in health care). However, despite endorsement by physicians and consumers of these approaches, implementation remains limited in practice, particularly outside academic and tertiary health care centres. There are practical problems of implementation, which include training, access to research, and development of and access to tools to display evidence and support decision making. There may also be philosophical difficulties, and some have even suggested that the two approaches (evidence based practice and Shared Decision Making) are fundamentally incompatible. This paper look at the achievements of EBM and SDM so far, the potential tensions between them, and how things might progress in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Making, Organizational*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / ethics
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Life Tables
  • Models, Organizational
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration
  • Patient Participation / methods*
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Power, Psychological
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Role