Doctors' attitudes to consent and shared decision making

What were the key findings?

  • Doctors were familiar with the principles of consent and shared decision making. They also demonstrated a willingness to adhere to them, to varying degrees.
  • Doctors raised challenges associated with being able to meet the guidance. 

Organisational challenges:

  • limited time with patients 
  • continuity of the doctor patient relationship.

Patient challenges:

  • Difficulties with assessing capacity
  • Understand what is important to individual patients
  • Provide complex information to patients in a way that patients can understand.

Doctor challenges:

  • Lack of up-to-date knowledge of some procedures and treatments 
  • Doctors and patients adapting to the changing patient-doctor relationship.

Why did we commission this research?

We commissioned this research as part of a broader review of our Consent guidance. Since it was last published, in 2008, there's been shifts in the legal, policy and workplace environments. We’re updating our guidance to keep it clear, relevant, accurate and helpful. We wanted to know the challenges doctors face in practice before we redraft the guidance. So  we can ensure that the new guidance is as helpful as possible.

What did the research involve?

Nine focus groups were conducted across the UK. This included doctors working in a range of specialities, in primary and secondary care and at different stages in their careers. An online bulletin board with the same group of doctors to further explore their views.

Read the full report

Doctors’ attitudes to consent and shared decision making.