Using This Tool in Practice

Shared decision-making (SDM) is a collaborative process that allows individuals to make informed choices about their treatment in partnership with their providers, taking into account the best scientific evidence available, as well as the individual’s values, preferences, and lifestyle.

There are a number of ways the tool can be used in practice to assist providers and patients to exchange information, engage in person-centered treatment planning, and support informed decision-making about personal treatment and recovery.

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Shared decision-making

Shared decision-making honors both the provider’s expert knowledge and the patient’s right to be fully informed of all treatment options and their potential risks and benefits.

Decision support tools help both providers and patients share information about options, preferences, and next steps. They structure dialogue about direction, and enhance communication and treatment decision-making.

There are multiple kinds of decision support tools, including electronic, video, and print materials that may be used before, during, or after a clinical consultation. Decision support tools usually offer information about health conditions and treatments, but go beyond typical health information materials. They are structured to help patients compare treatment options and weigh them against their personal values, lifestyles and preferences.

For more information on shared decision-making in behavioral health, see:

Shared Decision-Making in Mental Health Care: Practice, Research, and Future Directions (2011).

Shared Decision Making: Considering the Role of Antipsychotic Medications in your Recovery Plan (2012).

What this tool contains

Decisions in Recovery: Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder provides information based on best practices, clinical guidelines, and current research.

Each section of the tool addresses a basic question and has information, video clips, and worksheets relevant to the topic. The main sections are:

  • Whether medication can support my recovery? This section normalizes ambivalence and offers specific information on a variety of concerns and considerations.
  • Which medication will best “fit” my circumstances? This section offers a side by side comparison of the three medications approved for treating opioid problems on accessibility, side effects, health risks, and other aspects of treatment, such as starting and stopping.
  • How do I get started? This section helps locate treatment, familiarizes people with the treatment process, and prepares them to talk with providers and others about treatment and recovery.

A Site Map outlines the sections and pages.

A Resources page is organized by topic and links to supplemental material. A Glossary defines key words. The Video Library links to a page with all the video clips in the tool.

The Recovery Tools section provides quick access to all the worksheets, the handbook, the video library, treatment locators, glossary, and resources.

Since not everyone has access to the internet, key content has been also organized as a Handbook in PDF format. It can be downloaded, printed, and made available for patients to read. The entire handbook or any part of it, can serve as a take home handout.

Ways to use this tool in your practice

People can explore this tool on their own by accessing it online. Information and worksheets can help people prepare for appointments, discuss options during consultations, or serve as take home material following an initial visit.

Here are some examples of ways this decision support tool can be used by practitioners.

Before appointments: This tool can assist individuals to prepare before an appointment by helping them to organize thoughts, capture questions, and consider personal preferences. It can help them prepare the information they will need to bring with them to an initial appointment. This can help make limited face-to-face time more productive.

During appointments: Decision support tools can be especially helpful for people who are in the early stages of change or who may benefit from reviewing information before deciding about treatment. The structured material can help providers to present information about the risks and benefits of available options and to explore patient values and preferences.

After appointments: After a meeting, the tool can serve as a resource for information discussed. Printed worksheets and charts or web links can be reviewed at home. Some of the worksheets can help monitor progress over time and identify new recovery goals.

Workshops and groups: Decision support tools are especially effective in group settings. Worksheets or sections of the tool can stimulate discussion and learning. The tool can provide a basis for organizing education and support groups.

Peer support: Peer providers and recovery support specialists can use the tool in all the ways described above. In addition, they can support individuals to use the tool, coach them in effective communication, and help them develop decision-making skills.

Professional development: Decision support tools can help reframe “problems” as “decisions” and help practitioners to explore patient preferences and values. This tool can help guide entry level staff or intake departments as they engage people in decision-making, supporting them to weigh the risks and benefits of their options and make thoughtful choices.

Skill building: Part of recovery involves developing better decision-making skills. The tool helps integrate skill building by helping patients learn how to think through decisions effectively, exercise their right to make informed choices, and take greater ownership of their recovery.