Supporting consumers in informed decision making

There is a growing recognition that consumers want to participate in clinical decisions about their health. Prominent health organisations such as the General Medical Council UK, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, Health Canada and the American College of Physicians state that good health decision making should take account of patients’ preferences and values, and individuals should be informed of the harms as well as the benefits of medical interventions. This shift in emphasis towards informed choice recognises that consumers have a right to participate in decisions about their healthcare and that facilitating such participation may have beneficial outcomes for both the consumer and healthcare provider. The work of the Sydney Health Decision Group seeks to develop tools to support consumers to make informed decisions about their healthcare by:

  • a) finding effective ways to communicate evidence about the harms and benefits of different medical interventions including screening and diagnostic tests, and
  • b) developing ways to help consumers clarify their values and preferences, and reach a decision which they feel is right for them.