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Shared Decision Making

While sitting here jet-lagged after returning from the ACR Conference in Chicago, I am collecting my thoughts after a whirlwind of conversations, demonstrations, and academic sessions. Though I should be resting, I can’t help but format these thoughts and extrapolate on one particular topic that arose multiple times a day in all of the above scenarios.


Now, if you are unaware what conference I am speaking of, let me briefly explain. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is an organization that is committed to improving patient care for those with rheumatic diseases and advancing the sub-specialty of rheumatology. They are a global nonprofit formed in 1934 with over 9,600 physicians, scientists, and professionals worldwide. Every year, they have an annual conference that acts as a gateway to global education, with over 450 sessions, and connects colleagues, provides professional development, and a window to the latest rheumatology related research and clinical applications. This conference was recently held October 19-24, and I had the privilege of being there representing not only my organization, More Than Lupus, but partnering with Lupus Allied Disease Association, Lupus Research Alliance, Lupus Foundation of America, Lupus Research Program, and many more incredible lupus organizations.


So what was the topic I heard over and over again? You guessed it (from the title of this blog, I assume) - shared decision making.


Yes, shared decision making was mentioned in every session I attended, as not only gaining prominence in health care policy, but as an essential tool to better tailored treatment plans, patient compliance, and outcomes.


For those who may be newly diagnosed with lupus, and reading this term for the first time, shared decision making (SDM) is defined as an approach where patients and their doctors are both open with each other and share the best available evidence and ideas when faced with making decisions, and where patients are supported to consider options, and encouraged to achieve informed preferences to treatment.