Patient Characteristics and the Extent to Which Clinicians Involve Patients in Decision Making: Secondary Analyses of Pooled Data

Med Decis Making. 2024 Apr;44(3):346-356. doi: 10.1177/0272989X241231721. Epub 2024 Mar 4.


Background: The occurrence of shared decision making (SDM) in daily practice remains limited. Various patient characteristics have been suggested to potentially influence the extent to which clinicians involve patients in SDM.

Objective: To assess associations between patient characteristics and the extent to which clinicians involve patients in SDM.

Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of data pooled from 10 studies comparing the care of adult patients with (intervention) or without (control) a within-encounter SDM conversation tool. We included studies with audio(-visual) recordings of clinical encounters in which decisions about starting or reconsidering treatment were discussed.

Main measures: In the original studies, the Observing Patient Involvement in Decision Making 12-items (OPTION12 item) scale was used to code the extent to which clinicians involved patients in SDM in clinical encounters. We conducted multivariable analyses with patient characteristics (age, gender, race, education, marital status, number of daily medications, general health status, health literacy) as independent variables and OPTION12 as a dependent variable.

Results: We included data from 1,614 patients. The between-arm difference in OPTION12 scores was 7.7 of 100 points (P < 0.001). We found no association between any patient characteristics and the OPTION12 score except for education level (p = 0.030), an association that was very small (2.8 points between the least and most educated), contributed mostly by, and only significant in, control arms (6.5 points). Subanalyses of a stroke prevention trial showed a positive association between age and OPTION12 score (P = 0.033).

Conclusions: Most characteristics showed no association with the extent to which clinicians involved patients in SDM. Without an SDM conversation tool, clinicians devoted more efforts to involve patients with higher education, a difference not observed when the tool was used.

Highlights: Most sociodemographic patient characteristics show no association with the extent to which clinicians involve patients in shared decision making.Clinicians devoted less effort to involve patients with lower education, a difference that was not observed when a shared decision-making conversation tool was used.SDM conversation tools can be useful for clinicians to better involve patients and ensure patients get involved equally regardless of educational background.

Keywords: patient characteristics; patient involvement; pooled analyses; shared decision making.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Decision Making, Shared*
  • Humans
  • Patient Participation
  • Research Design
  • Stroke*