A shared decision-making communication training program for physicians treating Fibromyalgia patients: Effects of a randomized controlled trial – Source: Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Jan 2008

Objective: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a condition of chronic widespread pain that is difficult to control and is associated with strains in physician-patient interaction.

Shared decision making (SDM) can be a potential solution to improve interaction. We evaluated the effects of an SDM intervention, including an SDM communication training program for physicians, in a randomized controlled trial with FMS patients. The main objective was to assess whether SDM improves the quality of physician-patient interaction from patients’ perspective.

Methods: Patients were randomized to either an SDM group or an information-only group.

  • The SDM group was treated by physicians trained in SDM communication and had access to a computer-based information package;
  • The information-only group received only the information package and was treated by standard physicians.

  • All patients were offered the same evidence-based treatment options for FMS.

  • Patients were assessed with questionnaires on physician-patient interaction (main outcome criteria) and decisional processes. Physicians filled out a questionnaire on interaction difficulties. Assessment took place immediately after the initial consultation.

  • Results: Data from 85 FMS patients (44 in the SDM group and 41 in the information-only group) were analyzed. The mean age was 49.9 years (S.D.=10.2), and 91.8% of patients were female.

    The quality of physician-patient interaction was significantly higher in the SDM group than in the information-only group (P<.001). We found no differences in secondary outcome measures.

    Conclusions: Shared decision making with FMS patients might be a possible means to achieve a positive quality of physician-patient interaction. A specific SDM communication training program teaches physicians to perform SDM and reduces frustration in patients.

    Source: Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2008 Jan;64(1):13-20. PMID: 18157994, by Bieber C, Müller KG, Blumenstiel K, Hochlehnert A, Wilke S, Hartmann M, Eich W. Department of Psychosomatic and General Internal Medicine, Medical Hospital, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

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