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American Heart Association Statement Urges Engaging and Collaborating with Patients in Their Care

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A new American Heart Association scientific statement highlights evidence that supports shared decision-making, a term that describes the process of ensuring patients have the knowledge and tools to make decisions about their health in collaboration with their professional healthcare team. The statement is available in the American Heart Association’s flagship, peer-reviewed journal Circulation.

More than 100 trials have demonstrated that shared decision-making improves patient’s understanding, acceptance, and satisfaction with their healthcare, yet adequate levels of shared decision-making occur in as few as 10% of face-to-face consultations across a variety of healthcare specialties.

The statement details the key components of shared decision-making:

  • clearly communicated, unbiased evidence about risks, benefits, and reasonable alternatives to treatment;
  • clinical expertise provided in a way that is relevant to the patient; and
  • inclusion of the patient’s values, goals, and preferences in the decision process.

The statement presents models of shared decision-making and ways to measure it in research, in addition to strategies to promote its use. Potential solutions to increase shared decision-making in cardiovascular care include reimbursement for consultations, team-based care, integrating decision aids in electronic records, and training clinicians on communication skills that support shared decision-making more effectively and are sensitive to the cultural, racial, ethnic, and language considerations for each patient.

American Heart Association scientific statements promote greater awareness about cardiovascular diseases and help facilitate informed healthcare decisions. Scientific statements outline what is currently known about a topic and what areas need additional research. While scientific statements inform the development of guidelines, they do not make treatment recommendations.

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