Original Research

Do socio-economically disadvantaged patients prefer shared decision-making?

Owen O. Eales, Selma Smith
South African Family Practice | Vol 63, No 1 : Part 3| a5293 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v63i1.5293 | © 2021 Owen O. Eales, Selma Smith | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 March 2021 | Published: 17 June 2021

About the author(s)

Owen O. Eales, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Selma Smith, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Shared decision-making is the process where patients and clinicians work together to make healthcare choices. When given a choice, most patients want to participate in decision-making about their treatment. There is a perception amongst clinicians that socio-economically disadvantaged patients do not want to participate in shared decision-making. This study investigated if patients visiting the Family Medicine Outpatient Clinic at Kalafong Hospital in Gauteng, South Africa, would prefer shared decision-making.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey was performed using the Control Preference Scale. Patients visiting the Family Medicine Outpatient Clinic at Kalafong Hospital were purposively selected (n = 150) between February 2016 and May 2016.

Results: The patients had a median age of 52 years and 53% did not finish grade 12 at school. Their median income was R3200.00 (South African Rand [ZAR]; less than $200.00) per month. Nearly half (46%) of the patients surveyed had an active preference for shared decision-making during a consultation. No demographic or disease factors had a statistically significant association with this preference.

Conclusion: The perception that socio-economically disadvantaged patients do not want to actively participate in shared decision-making is incorrect according to this study. As it is not possible to predict which patients prefer an active approach to shared decision-making, it is recommended that clinicians should enquire whether they would prefer shared decision during consultations. Clinicians should also be equipped to practice this technique and an environment needs to be created that facilitates the process.


Keywords

family medicine; preference for shared decision-making; socio-economically disadvantaged patients; chronic disease; power imbalance; patient-centeredness; communication skills

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