Shared Decision Making

Shared Decision Making (SDM) is a process whereby service users, carers, healthcare professionals and organisations make decisions collectively. We do this to help inform, develop and deliver more effective health services and outcomes at a personal and strategic level.

The concept and practice of Shared Decision Making was formally endorsed by the Department of Health through a Policy Circular issued in May 2022. This Circular states that Health and Social Care Trusts must take steps to implement a new Clinical Guideline from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) on Shared Decision Making. The Public Health Agency (PHA), working with the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG), lead on monitoring the new guidelines regionally.


Shared decision making means that people:

Can decide how much they want to share in decisions about their health

Feel they have been listened to and their needs put first

Feel happier with their care, leading to better outcomes for their health.

Some benefits of SDM are:

  • It allows people to discuss and share information. This makes sure people have a good understanding of the benefits, harms and possible outcomes of different options.
  • It empowers people to make decisions about the treatment and care that is right for them at that time. This includes choosing to continue with their current treatment or choosing no treatment at all.
  • It allows people the opportunity to choose to what degree they want to engage in decision making. Some people prefer not to take an active role in making decisions with their healthcare professionals.


NICE have developed a range of resources to support service users, carers and healthcare professionals to implement SDM. These include:

  • SDM Baselining Tool for HSC organisations
  • Patient Decision Aids (PDAs) – These help people make informed choices about healthcare. This considers their personal values and preferences.
  • SDM Standards Framework – The framework is designed for people who use PDAs, whether they are patients or clinicians. It helps them determine if the quality of the PDAs is sufficient.
  • Elearning training resources


Further information on the NICE Clinical Guideline for SDM can be found by clicking here 

The NICE Guideline and DoH Circular can be downloaded by clicking on the images below


As this work progresses, there will be opportunities for involving service users and carers in how SDM is implemented across the region.

The new NICE Guideline and Policy Circular above complement previous work carried out regionally by the Clinical Education Centre, HSC organisations and service users and carers. As part of this process, several resources and videos were developed to promote SDM to service users, carers and staff. These can be viewed and downloaded by clicking the on the images below.