While multiple versions of shared decision making (SDM) have been advanced, most share two seemingly essential elements: (a) SDM is primarily focused on treatment choices and (b) the clinician is primarily responsible for providing options while the patient contributes values and preferences. We argue that these two elements render SDM suboptimal for clinical practice. We suggest that SDM is better viewed as collaboration in all aspects of clinical care, with clinicians needing to fully engage with the patient's experience of illness and participation in treatment. SDM can only take place within an ongoing partnership between clinician and patient, both respecting the other as a person, not as part of an isolated encounter. Respect for the patient as a person goes beyond respect for their choice. Non-interference is not the only way, or even the most important way, to respect patient autonomy. Knowing the patient as a person and providing an autonomy-supportive context for care are crucial. That is, the clinician must know the patient well enough to be able to answer the patient's question "What would you do, if you were me?" This approach acknowledges clinicians as persons, requiring them to understand patients as persons. We provide examples of such a model of SDM and assert that this pragmatic method does not require excessive time or effort on the part of clinicians or patients but does require direct and particular knowledge of the patient that is often omitted from clinical decisions.
Keywords: multimorbidity; person-centred medicine; philosophy of medicine.
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.