A new report from PIF member the Patients Association says healthcare professionals are positive about shared decision making.

The report is based on an online survey of 1,416 healthcare professionals.

It found most respondents said they practised shared decision making 'always' or 'often'. 

They recognised its benefits and were positive about involving patients in choices about their care.

However, professionals’ ability to practice shared decision making regularly is limited by lack of time, gaps in the workforce or large caseloads. 

Problems with NHS IT were also mentioned as a major barrier.

Attitudes and barriers to shared decision making

More than 1 in 3 of respondents said they always practised all three of the core elements of shared decision making, 2 in 5 said that they often did.

Nine out of ten respondents said shared decision making should be used routinely.

Nurses were most positive about shared decision making, with specialist nurses being the most positive of all respondents.

One in four respondents said lack of time was the biggest single barrier to practising shared decision making.

Nurses were more likely to have had shared decision making as part of their training than doctors.

Respondents whose initial training did not include shared decision making are more likely to have a gap in their knowledge all through their career, even with in-career training.


  • The NHS should enhance and make more consistent the promotion of shared-decision-making approaches
  • The NHS should make a co-ordinated effort to promote existing resources and good practice to its workforce
  • Any promotion must recognise the circumstances where shared decision making may not be appropriate
  • Gaps in decision support and patient information that cannot be filled by promoting existing materials and good practice should be identified and remedied
  • NHS Digital should examine IT shortcomings and ensure future efforts to improve the IT capacity in the NHS includes ensuring new systems support shared decision making
  • Curriculums for healthcare professionals should be reviewed and, where necessary, enhanced to ensure shared decision making is taught

View the full report here.