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Facing a medical decision? Talk it out with your doctor

Decisions about your medical care can be stressful. And it might be tempting to just leave them to your doctor.

But there can be big benefits to being involved in making these decisions and talking through the pros and cons with your doctor. This process is called shared decision-making. Research shows that people who use it can experience benefits like increased satisfaction with their care, less anxiety and a quicker recovery.

With shared decision-making, your doctor explains your choices for a treatment, test or procedure. (You might also talk about the option of not having any treatment.) And you share your questions, goals and concerns.

Shared decision-making is especially important when there are several options that are reasonable or when no one choice has a clear advantage.

Know your options

3 times that talking things out with your doctor is especially helpful

1. If you will be taking a medicine for the rest of your life.

2. If you’re having major surgery.

3. If you’re getting genetic or cancer screening tests.

Sources: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; American Cancer Society; New England Journal of Medicine

Reviewed 4/1/2021

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