Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

SDM: Sharing decisions about your health care

In this step, you will learn about the importance of sharing decision making with healthcare professionals.
Before, during, and after your radiation therapy treatment, treatment choices need to be made, choices such as whether radiation therapy is the best treatment for your situation, if you need other treatments, too, and how often you need to have aftercare followup. Now, every person is different. So the choices and options to choose from might also be different. So how do health care professionals make those choices? Well, if possible, with you. In this video, we will share possible advantages and disadvantages of sharing treatment decisions. This information is partly based on experiences from people that thought about sharing decisions with their health care professional or made treatment decisions together.
First of all, sharing what is important to you, and using that together with scientific evidence, could help make a decision that suits your situation better. It can also make you feel more involved in your health care. It might be easier to continue the treatment chosen, which could make the treatment have a better result. But the treatment chosen together could also not work as intended. This can happen whether you share the decision or not. Still, research show that people that have shared decisions with their health care professional overall feel more content with that decision than people who did not share decisions. When people think about sharing treatment decisions, they often consider the relationship they already have with their health care professional.
Will asking to share decisions affect this relationship? Well, in theory, it should not affect your treatment options or your quality of care. Also, studies show that people that share decisions report better relationships with their health care professional. Now, these advantages and disadvantages were studied in other people and may be different for you. Do you want to share treatment decisions with your health care professional? Do you want to share in all decisions or specific decisions? And why is this important to you? It might be useful to write down your thoughts about it and share them with your health care professional during your next visit. It could be a good way to start discussing sharing treatment decisions.

In the next three steps, you can learn more about if, when and how you can be involved and share treatment decisions. In this first step, you can read and hear about making choices together with your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional about your healthcare.

Sharing decisions about your treatment with your healthcare professional might be something new to you. It is important to make clear that you are under no obligation to take part in choosing what treatment is right for you. Your doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals can make the choice for you if you like.

Ultimately, choosing to make decisions together with your healthcare professionals about your health care is your choice. It is up to you.

Why share decisions with your healthcare professional?

Your treatment team are highly skilled healthcare professionals. They make choices about treatment every working day, using scientific information and treatment guidelines. But there is something that they do not know as well as you do: YOU.

You can help by sharing what is important to you; what your preferences are. Healthcare professionals can then share their professional knowledge and experiences and match relevant treatment options with your preferences. Together you can reach a decision that is best for you.

In the video above, you can hear more about the advantages and disadvantages of sharing treatment decisions.

Ways in which you can share decisions with your healthcare professional

There is no one correct way to make choices about health care, you can find a way that suits you and your healthcare professional best.

  • Share information only, but leave the decision to your healthcare professional

You can tell your healthcare professional what matters to you. How do you live your life and what do you still want to accomplish? What activities do you want to keep doing if possible? Which side effects could you live with and which ones would be very difficult for you to handle?

  • Share both information and decision with your healthcare professional

You discuss all treatment options with your healthcare professional, including their advantages and disadvantages. You can discuss the impact of each option, based on what matters to you. How will it affect your chances of continue your work or hobbies? How will treatment affect your sex life? Based on this information, you can then decide together which treatment option is best for you.

What sharing decisions is NOT

Sharing decisions does not mean that you have to make the decision by yourself. You can talk about it with people whose opinion you think is important (such as your partner, family or friends) about your options. Your healthcare professional can use their professional knowledge and experiences to share the decision with you.

It also does not mean that you can choose whatever treatment you might be interested in, as healthcare professionals have the duty to offer only treatments that will effectively treat your condition and not actively harm you. Treatment costs and chance of success also need to be considered. Because of this, some treatments might not be an option. It is therefore important to discuss what treatment options are available to you and what would happen if you decided not to have any treatment.

Advantages and disadvantages of sharing decisions

In the video above, you can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of sharing treatment decisions with your healthcare professional. This information can help you decide if you truly want to share decisions with your healthcare professional or would prefer not to do this.

This article is from the free online

An Introduction to Radiation Oncology: From Diagnosis to Survivorship

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education