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Persons over models: shared decision-making for person-centered medicine

Marco Annoni, Charlotte Blease


In the last decades “shared decision-making” has been hailed as the new paradigm for the doctor-patient relationship. However, different models of clinical decision-making appear to be compatible with the core tenets of “shared decision-making”. Reconsidering Emanuel and Emanuel (1992) classic analysis, in this paper we distinguish five possible models of clinical decision-making: (i) the ‘instrumental’; (ii) the ‘paternalistic’; (iii) the ‘informative’; (iv) the ‘interpretative’; and (v) the ‘persuasive’ models. For each model we present its fundamental assumptions as well as the role that patients and doctors are expected to play with respect to value-laden dilemmas. We argue that, with the exception of the instrumental model, each of the other four models may be appropriate depending on the circumstances. We conclude by highlighting the importance of structuring clinical care around actual persons - and their unique lives and philosophies - rather than around abstract frameworks.


Autonomy, doctor-patient communication, informed consent, paternalism, person-centered medicine, shared decision-making

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