Problem-based shared decision making: The role of canonical SDM steps

Victor M. Montori, Merel M. Ruissen, Megan E. Branda, Ian G. Hargraves, Marleen Kunneman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the extent to which the canonical steps of shared decision making (SDM) take place in clinical encounters in practice and across SDM forms. Methods: We assessed 100 randomly selected video-recorded primary care encounters, obtained as part of a randomized trial of an SDM intervention in patients with type 2 diabetes. Two coders, working independently, noted each instance of SDM, classified it as one of four problem-based forms to SDM (weighing alternatives, negotiating conflicting issues, solving problems, or developing existential insight), and noted the occurrence and timing of each of the four canonical SDM steps: fostering choice awareness, providing information, stating preferences, and deciding. Descriptive analyses sought to determine the relative frequency of these steps across each of the four SDM forms within each encounter. Results: There were 485 SDM steps noted (mean 4.85 steps per encounter), of which providing information and stating preferences were the most common. There were 2.7 (38 steps in 14 encounters) steps per encounter observed in encounters with no discernible SDM form, 3.4 (105 steps in 31 encounters) with one SDM form, 5.2 (129 steps in 25 encounters) with two SDM forms, and 7.1 (213 steps in 30 encounters) when ≥3 SDM forms were observed within the encounter. The prescribed order of the four SDM steps was observed in, at best, 16 of the 100 encounters. Stating preferences was a common step when weighing alternatives (38%) or negotiating conflicts (59.3%) but less common when solving problems (29.2%). The distribution of SDM steps was similar to usual care with or without the SDM intervention. Conclusion: The normative steps of SDM are infrequently observed in their prescribed order regardless of whether an SDM intervention was used. Some steps are more likely in some SDM forms but no pattern of steps appears to distinguish among SDM forms. Clinical Trial Registration: NCT01293578.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • SDM
  • problem-based
  • purposeful
  • shared decision making
  • steps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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