Assessments of the extent to which health-care providers involve patients in decision making: a systematic review of studies using the OPTION instrument

Health Expect. 2015 Aug;18(4):542-61. doi: 10.1111/hex.12054. Epub 2013 Mar 4.


Background: We have no clear overview of the extent to which health-care providers involve patients in the decision-making process during consultations. The Observing Patient Involvement in Decision Making instrument (OPTION) was designed to assess this.

Objective: To systematically review studies that used the OPTION instrument to observe the extent to which health-care providers involve patients in decision making across a range of clinical contexts, including different health professions and lengths of consultation.

Search strategy: We conducted online literature searches in multiple databases (2001-12) and gathered further data through networking.

Inclusion criteria: (i) OPTION scores as reported outcomes and (ii) health-care providers and patients as study participants. For analysis, we only included studies using the revised scale.

Data extraction: Extracted data included: (i) study and participant characteristics and (ii) OPTION outcomes (scores, statistical associations and reported psychometric results). We also assessed the quality of OPTION outcomes reporting.

Main results: We found 33 eligible studies, 29 of which used the revised scale. Overall, we found low levels of patient-involving behaviours: in cases where no intervention was used to implement shared decision making (SDM), the mean OPTION score was 23 ± 14 (0-100 scale). When assessed, the variables most consistently associated with higher OPTION scores were interventions to implement SDM (n = 8/9) and duration of consultations (n = 8/15).

Conclusions: Whatever the clinical context, few health-care providers consistently attempt to facilitate patient involvement, and even fewer adjust care to patient preferences. However, both SDM interventions and longer consultations could improve this.

Keywords: OPTION instrument; clinician-patient communication; implementation; patient involvement; shared decision making.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Communication
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Patient Participation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Preference*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Psychometrics
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors