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Empowering patients

03 August 2010

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Patients could have more of a say over their treatment as part of a joint University study to encourage shared decision making between doctors and patients.

The Making Good Decisions in Collaboration (MAGIC) programme is a joint venture between the School of Medicine, Newcastle University, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The 18-month programme will explore how clinicians can engage patients in shared decision making and be embedded into mainstream health services.

"NHS patients report being dissatisfied because they are not consulted about their treatment and they want to be actively involved in making choices about their own healthcare", according to Professor Glyn Elwyn, School of Medicine, Director of Research at the University’s Department of Primary Care and Public Health and Co-Lead for the MAGIC programme.

"Shared decision making recognises that while clinicians are the experts about different treatment options available, the individual is the expert about their own preferences. Shared decision making invites clinicians and patients to share their differing expertise and work together as active partners when making choices about care" he adds.

Professor Glyn Elwyn will work alongside Professor Richard Thomson at Newcastle University on a multidisciplinary ‘design team’ made up of senior academics, clinicians and managers. The programme will run from August 2010 to January 2012.

Doctor running medical checkup

Shared decision making is known to work well in situations where there is more than one reasonable course of action. Often difficult decisions need to be made based on the amount of risk involved and the potential outcome of each choice.

Professor Elwyn added: "Many good decision support tools exist already, but aren’t widely used. We want to raise awareness of shared decision making and find ways to introduce sustainable change that can be easily replicated in other areas."

The programme will design and test interventions across a range of sites and clinical areas, including, primary care, obstetrics, urology, breast cancer care and ear, nose and throat.

MAGIC will help build practical and transferable knowledge about how shared decision making can become a core characteristic of routine clinical care across the NHS.

The programme is supported by The Health Foundation - an independent charity working to continuously improve the quality of healthcare in the UK.

Jo Bibby, Director of Improvement Programmes at the Health Foundation said: "The Health Foundation is supporting the MAGIC programme, because despite strong evidence and a common understanding that shared decision making is good practice, the approach has been slow to spread across the NHS.

"This is because it’s a big culture shift for the health service and means breaking away from the traditional relationship between ‘passive patients’ and ‘expert health professionals.

"We are pleased to be working closely with this multi-disciplinary team to encourage the use of shared decision making."

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