Shared Decision Making

Shared Decision Making ~ Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy

March has been designated Shared Decision Making month, #SDMmonth, by a group I started following on social media, Informed Medical Decisions Foundation.  I participated recently in one of their online webinars on the topic.  I often tweet about shared decision making and in the practice of plastic surgery, and in particular breast reconstruction after mastectomy; I embrace the value of this practice.

Two of the physicians that I have engaged with in the practice of shared decision making are my breast surgeon who performed my mastectomy and my micro-surgeon who performed my breast reconstruction.  They both embody the very definition of the phrase as defined here by the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation.

Shared decision making (SDM) is a collaborative process that allows patients and their providers to make health care decisions together, taking into account the best scientific evidence available, as well as the patient’s values and preferences.


SDM honors both the provider’s expert knowledge and the patient’s right to be fully informed of all care options and the potential harms and benefits. This process provides patients with the support they need to make the best individualized care decisions, while allowing providers to feel confident in the care they prescribe.

Included here are thoughts and a brief summary that I complied after watching the video from the Informed Medical Decision Foundation:

 “What is Shared Decision Making?”

  • Gives you a voice in what you can choose and select what’s going to work for you.
  • Feeling more empowered when you meet with your physician.
  • Patients are able to engage more in a two-way discussion and know what their options are.
  • Shared decision making gets to the heart of what engages patients.
  • Both physicians and patients are very satisfied when patients have the information they need to make appropriate decisions.
  • Patients take an active part in their healthcare.
  • Shared decision making can change the dynamics of the relationship with your physician.
  • Allows the patient the opportunity to have a dialogue and feel more informed.
  • The relationship that you form with your patient can bring value to their life.
  • When the patient says, “Wow! You really listened to me.” that is the stuff that makes physicians feel good.
  • When you don’t have control over what’s going on, it’s a terrible feeling.
  • You feel better when you feel as though you’re part of a team.
  • A tool to build lasting relationships with patients.
  • The more we can engage patients and build relationships the better care we’re going to be able to give them.

Do you feel that Shared Decision Making was part of your breast reconstruction journey?  Was your relationship with your breast cancer team forged by the practice of Shared Decision Making?

Share your thoughts and experience and join the movement here:

Shared Decision Making


References made to my surgical group, surgeon and healthcare team are made because they are aligned with my values and met my criterion after I did research of their practices and success rates. Any other healthcare provider that displays the same skill, compassion education and outreach to patients will be given consideration and recognition on this website.  The information contained on this website is not a substitute for or should be construed as medical advice. Please consult a licensed physician for medical advice.

2 Replies to “Shared Decision Making”

  1. Alene Nitzky Ph.D., RN

    Shared decision-making is a great step toward ensuring patients’ voices are heard and heeded by their treatment teams. Very important for all members of the treatment team to be engaged. Patient still needs to advocate for themselves, though, and it’s important that the patient is health literate and assertive enough to be a full participant in the process. Overcoming intimidation and lack of confidence either by educating oneself as a patient or having a knowledgeable advocate/navigator/support person is needed.

    • Terri Post author

      Thank you, Alene. This is so true and I believe for those of us who are advocates and like yourself, a health coach at Cancer Harbors, it is our moral obligation to help those who need help in finding this information by sharing our knowledge with them. Always great to hear from you!

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