Validation of a Process for Shared Decision-Making in Pediatrics

Published:January 19, 2023DOI:



      We sought to confirm, refute, or modify a 4-step process for implementing shared decision-making (SDM) in pediatrics that involves determining 1) if the decision includes >1 medically reasonable option; 2) if one option has a favorable medical benefit-burden ratio compared to other options; and 3) parents' preferences regarding the options; then 4) calibrating the SDM approach based on other relevant decision characteristics.


      We videotaped a purposive sample of pediatric inpatient and outpatient encounters at a single US children's hospital. Clinicians from 7 clinical services (craniofacial, neonatology, oncology, pulmonary, pediatric intensive care, hospital medicine, and sports medicine) were eligible. English-speaking parents of children who participated in inpatient family care conferences or outpatient problem-oriented encounters with participating clinicians were eligible. We conducted individual post-encounter interviews with clinician and parent participants utilizing video-stimulated recall to facilitate reflection of decision-making that occurred during the encounter. We utilized direct content analysis with open coding of interview transcripts to determine the salience of the 4-step SDM process and identify themes that confirmed, refuted, or modified this process.


      We videotaped 30 encounters and conducted 53 interviews. We found that clinicians' and parents' experiences of decision-making confirmed each SDM step. However, there was variation in the interpretation of each step and a need for flexibility in implementing the process depending on specific decisional contexts.


      The 4-step SDM process for pediatrics appears to be salient and may benefit from further guidance about the interpretation of each step and contextual factors that support a modified approach.


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