Many people still get the willies whenever they have to go to the doctor, one reason being that it's easy to be frightened when you don't really know what's going on and what's about to happen. However, as the saying goes, knowledge is power.

In a recent feature, Science Daily explores the importance of shared decision-making, which involves patients actively participating in their own healing process instead of leaving everything in the hands of the physician.

The study, which focuses on orthopaedics, involved 123 patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, who were considered as candidates for hip or knee replacement. Members of the intervention group reviewed a DVD and a booklet that taught them all about their condition as well as the pros and cons of several treatment options. They then spoke with a health coach who helped them formulate questions for their orthopedic surgeon regarding their choices.

On the other hand, members of the control group only received minimal data in the form of a one-page leaflet about their condition and a backgrounder on their orthopedic surgeon.

The results revealed that 58 percent of those in the intervention group made an informed decision during their first visit to their surgeon as compared with the 33 percent in the control group.

"When patients feel more prepared for their visit, and they are armed with credible, factual information about their condition as well as treatment alternatives, they feel empowered and confident to make a decision that is consistent with their preference and values… Shared decision-making can help improve the quality and efficiency of the healthcare we deliver and more importantly, is patient-centered," lead author Kevin Bozic, MD, MBA, explains.

(Photo by Walt Stoneburner via Flickr Creative Commons)

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