Teaching Shared Decision Making to Undergraduate Medical Students

Meira Tidhar and Jochanan Benbassat


Despite the wide endorsement of shared decision making (SDM), its integration into clinical practice has been slow. In this paper, we suggest that this integration may be promoted by teaching SDM not only to residents and practicing physicians, but also to undergraduate medical students. The proposed teaching approach assumes that SDM requires effective doctor–patient communication; that such communication requires empathy; and that the doctor’s empathy requires an ability to identify the patient’s concerns. Therefore, we suggest shifting the focus of teaching SDM from how to convey health-related information to patients, to how to gain an insight into their concerns. In addition, we suggest subdividing SDM training into smaller, sequentially taught units, in order to help learners to elucidate the patient’s preferred role in decisions about her/his care, match the patient’s preferred involvement in these decisions, present choices, discuss uncertainty, and encourage patients to obtain a second opinion.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2021;12(4):e0032