Physicians’ perspective on shared decision making in Dubai: a cross-sectional study
Alsheikh-Ali, Alawi A.
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Background: Shared decision-making (SDM) is an integral part of patient-centered delivery of care. Maximizing the opportunity of patients to participate in decisions related to their health is an expectation in care delivery nowadays. The purpose of this study is to explore the perceptions of physicians in regard to SDM in a large private hospital network in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Methods: This study utilized a cross-sectional design, where a survey questionnaire was assembled to capture quantitative and qualitative data on the perception of physicians in relation to SDM. The survey instrument included three sections: the first solicited physicians’ personal and professional information, the second entailed a 9-item SDM Questionnaire (SDM-Q-9), and the third included an open-ended section. Statistical analysis assessed whether the average SDM-Q-9 score differed significantly by gender, age, years of experience, professional status—generalist versus specialist, and work location—hospitals versus polyclinics. Non-parametric analysis (two independent variables) with the Mann-Whitney test was utilized. The qualitative data was thematically analyzed. Results: Fifty physicians from various specialties participated in this study (25 of each gender—85% response rate). Although the quantitative data analysis revealed that most physicians (80%) rated themselves quite highly when it comes to SDM, qualitative analysis underscored a number of barriers that limited the opportunity for SDM. Analysis identified four themes that influence the acceptability of SDM, namely physician-specific (where the physicians’ extent of adopting SDM is related to their own belief system and their perception that the presence of evidence negates the need for SDM), patient-related (e.g., patients’ unwillingness to be involved in decisions concerning their health), contextual/environmental (e.g., sociocultural impediments), and relational (the information asymmetry and the power gradient that influence how the physician and patient relate to one another). Conclusions: SDM and evidence-based management (EBM) are not mutually exclusive. Professional learning and development programs targeting caregivers should focus on the consolidation of the two perspectives. We encourage healthcare managers and leaders to translate declared policies into actionable initiatives supporting patient-centered care. This could be achieved through the dedication of the necessary resources that would enable SDM, and the development of interventions that are designed both to improve health literacy and to educate patients on their rights.