It is important to have (and to promote) a step-by-step process to present us and our families with evidence that helps us understand the trade-offs of health decisions and to thus prepare for productive discussions with our physicians. And it is important to know that most individuals and physicians who go through this formal process find it feasible and satisfying.
But it is the values that this model embodies that justify the focus, energy and investments in it. Those values are that:
…Information and evidence about tests and treatments is a critical component of many health care decisions.
…Patients and caregivers can understand evidence and can use it to help them weigh their options.
…Providers can discuss available evidence – what is known, where it is lacking and what it means – with patients.
…Patients are explicitly invited to participate in the decisions about their care (even if that participation consists of delegating decision-making to a caregiver or physician).
…The opinions and preferences of patients – informed by their understanding of the evidence –shape and determine the tests they take and the treatment they undergo.