In the decision-making environment of evidence-based practice, the following three sources of information must be integrated: research evidence of the intervention, clinical expertise, and the patient’s values. In reality, evidence-based practice usually focuses on research evidence (which may be translated into clinical practice guidelines) and clinical expertise without considering the individual patient’s values. The shared decision-making model seems to be helpful in the integration of the individual patient’s values in evidence-based practice. We aim to discuss the relevance of shared decision making in chronic care and to suggest how it can be integrated with evidence-based practice in nursing.
We start by describing the following three possible approaches to guide the decision-making process: the paternalistic approach, the informed approach, and the shared decision-making approach. Implementation of shared decision making has gained considerable interest in cases lacking a strong best-treatment recommendation, and when the available treatment options are equivalent to some extent. We discuss that in chronic care it is important to always invite the patient to participate in the decision-making process.
We delineate the following six attributes of health care interventions in chronic care that influence the degree of shared decision making: the level of research evidence, the number of available intervention options, the burden of side effects, the impact on lifestyle, the patient group values, and the impact on resources.
Furthermore, the patient’s willingness to participate in shared decision making, the clinical expertise of the nurse, and the context in which the decision making takes place affect the shared decision-making process. A knowledgeable and skilled nurse with a positive attitude towards shared decision making – integrated with evidence-based practice – can facilitate the shared decision-making process. We conclude that nurses as well as other health care professionals in chronic care should integrate shared decision making with evidence-
based practice to deliver patient-centred care.