Dr. Kon notes that definitions of SDM seem to span a continuum between two extremes. On one end is the patient calling all the shots, while on one end, the physician is doing so. In between are various degrees of sharing that can be categorized as a) "physician recommendation," b) true equal partners and c) "informed non-dissent."
In physician recommendation, the patient ultimately makes the decision, but it's up to the doctor to try to objectively list all the options in a neutral manner. On the other end, in informed non-dissent, the physician ascertains the patient's values, lists the options but makes the decision while allowing the patient to veto it. When there are true equal partners, both parties work together to reach a mutually satisfactory decision.
Good point, says the DMCB. Next time you hear the term "shared decision making" from a colleague, co-worker, supervisor, boss or speaker, you may need to ask them if they're talking about the variants that tilted toward the doc (informed non-dissent) or toward the patient (physician recommendation) or truly in the middle. You may be surprised at the answer.