What Does the Evolution From Informed Consent to Shared Decision Making Teach Us About Authority in Health Care?

What Does the Evolution From Informed Consent to Shared Decision Making Teach Us About Authority in Health Care?
History of Medicine
James F. Childress, Marcia Day Childress
AMA Journal of Ethics, May 2020
Open Access
Abstract
This article examines the legal doctrine and ethical norm of informed consent and its deficiencies, particularly its concentration on physician disclosure of information rather than on patient understanding, which led to the development of shared decision making as a way to enhance informed consent. As a vague and imprecise rubric, shared decision making encompasses several different approaches. Narrower approaches presuppose an individualistic account of autonomy, while broader approaches view autonomy as relational and hold that clinician-patient relationships grounded in good communication can assist decision making and foster autonomous choices. Shared decision making faces conceptual, normative, and practical challenges, but, with its goal of respecting, protecting, and promoting patients’ autonomous choices, it represents an important cultural change in medicine.

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