Shared decision-making in the care of individuals with diabetes

Diabet Med. 2016 Jun;33(6):742-51. doi: 10.1111/dme.13143.


People with diabetes often live with other chronic conditions and lead complicated lives. Determining what is the best management decision for a patient requires consideration of each individual's personal, social and biomedical context, what he or she values, the reasons he or she has to value the available options, and the relative contribution of each option in terms of benefits, harms, costs and inconveniences. Empathic conversations between patients and clinicians to diagnose the patient situation that necessitates action and the range of evidence-based actions that best address the situation, so-called shared decision-making, are essential to the personalized care of people with diabetes. The aim of the present review was to present key elements of shared decision-making and propose three different approaches for its application. The first approach focuses on transferring information to patients so that they can make decisions. The second approach, choice, focuses on cultivating the individual's ability to give voice to which choice is best for them. The third approach, conversation, establishes an empathic conversational environment through which the individual with diabetes and their clinician think and talk through how to address the problems of living with diabetes and related illnesses. These approaches are manifest in the design of evidence-based decision aids created to support shared decision-making. In randomized trials, decision aids can efficiently improve patient's knowledge, satisfaction, risk awareness, decisional conflict and involvement. Further research, however, is needed to better understand when and how to promote the empathic conversations, patient, clinician and service and policy contexts necessary to routinely implement shared decision-making in different at scale healthcare systems. In the interim, sufficient evidence and tools exist for persons with diabetes and their clinicians to gain expertise in making decisions together.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior
  • Clinical Decision-Making*
  • Decision Making*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Empathy
  • Forecasting
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Medical Informatics / standards
  • Pamphlets
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic