Shared decision-making, health choices and the menopause.
Salkovskis PM., Wroe AL., Rees MCP.
The growing influence of the mass media on public understanding of health care matters has increased both information and misinformation in patients seeking help with menopausal symptoms. The use of shared decision-making strategies provides the opportunity to engage the patient in taking some responsibility for their own treatment. It also allows the identification and correction of any distortions in the perceived balance of evidence for and against any particular treatment. Shared decision-making balances the need to respect patients' values and autonomy with the drive towards evidence-based medicine and clinical cost-effectiveness. Although ways of achieving such a balance are much discussed, the current need is for research which can identify effective strategies that allow the principles of "shared decision-making" and "evidence-based patient choice" to be validated and applied in clinical practice. Previous research focused on hormone replacement therapy indicates that the patient's decision is the outcome of the way they balance the pros and cons of taking (or not taking) it, and that their satisfaction with the decision is strongly associated with the perception that they have been given information about the full range of treatment available. It therefore seems likely that patients will respond more positively to consultations which include discussion of hormone replacement therapy alongside alternative strategies such as natural remedies and dietary/lifestyle changes. Psychological factors influencing treatment choice and the decision making process are discussed, and clinical and research implications for clinical practice in the menopause clinic examined.