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Shared decision making

The Trust is committed to constantly improving the quality of care that our patients receive. As part of this commitment, we're helping you to understand the treatment options that may be available to you to better treat your health condition.

Making decisions together is often termed Shared Decision Making. This allows you, the patient, to be an equal partner in your health care, working with your doctor or nurse to make an informed decision about your treatment. Shared Decision Making is appropriate if more than one treatment option exists, for example, choosing between different types of treatment or different ways of managing your condition. The right option for you depends on what is important to you.

While clinicians may be treatment experts, you, as the patient, are 'an expert in yourself'. When you visit our hospitals for your appointment, always remember to 'Ask 3 questions':

  • What are my options?

Is this something you can consider for a while or do decisions need to be made as a matter of urgency? Not all options will be available to all patients. This depends on your medical history and other problems you may have. So ask about options specifically for you.

  • What are the possible benefits and risks?

All treatments have pros and cons and it is important that you understand these when making a decision.

  • How do I get support to help me make a decision that is right for me?

You need to consider how the different treatments and their side effects will affect what is important to you and your family. The healthcare professional will be able to advise you of the treatments available but may not be aware of your preferences or specifically the options most likely to meet your preferences. It is therefore important that you come to a decision together.

How can you be involved?


Your appointment invitation letter will provide you with information about what Shared Decision Making is and point you in the direction of further support information. You will also see the introduction of information leaflets and posters in waiting areas and details on our website, and may be asked to complete feedback surveys about your involvement during your appointment.  

Patient decision aids


The Trust is introducing Shared Decision Making in a stepped approach across a number of specialities. Resources include Patient Decision Aids (PDAs), which are designed to help patients make decisions about the care, treatment and medical tests. They are online tools that inform patients which treatment and care options are available and can be used to help patients to make a decision on which is the best treatment option for them.

The following PDAs have been approved for use within County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust:

Coronary Heart Disease




Brief decision aids

Brief decision aids (BDAs) are short, paper based information sheets about common conditions. They are designed to help patients make decisions about their treatments and other medical test that can be easily printed from the website.


Coronary Heart Disease


Additional information / other links


NHS Choices  

NHS Direct



British Heart Foundation

Arrhythmia Alliance 

'Care received was fantastic and I was very well looked after and very impressed.'

Patient, Day Surgery, Darlington Memorial Hospital