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Sharing Medicine
September 2017

Shared Understanding With Patients

Author Affiliations
  • 1School of Pharmacy, Keele University, Staffordshire, England
  • 2Tufts University College of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Tufts University Family Medicine Residency Program at Cambridge Health Alliance, Malden, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(9):1247-1248. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1932

When asked if they would like to be involved in decisions about their health care, approximately 9 of 10 US patients say they want to know all of their options. But far fewer people said they were offered options than wanted to discuss them,1 and, by offering a range of options, health professionals are only beginning a process of shared understanding. At its simplest, shared understanding may involve a one-off binary choice (eg, take an antibiotic or have a surgical procedure), but often it involves a dialogue that must be maintained through the complexities of chronic or comorbid illnesses.