Barriers and facilitators for shared decision making in older patients with multiple chronic conditions: a systematic review

BMC Geriatr. 2021 Feb 6;21(1):112. doi: 10.1186/s12877-021-02050-y.


Background: The aim of this study was to describe barriers and facilitators for shared decision making (SDM) as experienced by older patients with multiple chronic conditions (MCCs), informal caregivers and health professionals.

Methods: A structured literature search was conducted with 5 databases. Two reviewers independently assessed studies for eligibility and performed a quality assessment. The results from the included studies were summarized using a predefined taxonomy.

Results: Our search yielded 3838 articles. Twenty-eight studies, listing 149 perceived barriers and 67 perceived facilitators for SDM, were included. Due to poor health and cognitive and/or physical impairments, older patients with MCCs participate less in SDM. Poor interpersonal skills of health professionals are perceived as hampering SDM, as do organizational barriers, such as pressure for time and high turnover of patients. However, among older patients with MCCs, SDM could be facilitated when patients share information about personal values, priorities and preferences, as well as information about quality of life and functional status. Informal caregivers may facilitate SDM by assisting patients with decision support, although informal caregivers can also complicate the SDM process, for example, when they have different views on treatment or the patient's capability to be involved. Coordination of care when multiple health professionals are involved is perceived as important.

Conclusions: Although poor health is perceived as a barrier to participate in SDM, the personal experience of living with MCCs is considered valuable input in SDM. An explicit invitation to participate in SDM is important to older adults. Health professionals need a supporting organizational context and good communication skills to devise an individualized approach for patient care.

Keywords: Communication; Informal caregivers; Participation; Personal experience; Preferences.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers
  • Decision Making
  • Decision Making, Shared*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Chronic Conditions* / therapy
  • Patient Participation
  • Quality of Life