Supporting shared decision making for older people with multiple health and social care needs: a realist synthesis
Background Health care systems are increasingly moving towards more integrated approaches. Shared decision making (SDM) is central to these models but may be complicated by the need to negotiate and communicate decisions between multiple providers, as well as patients and their family carers; particularly for older people with complex needs. The aim of this review was to provide a context relevant understanding of how interventions to facilitate SDM might work for older people with multiple health and care needs, and how they might be applied in integrated care models. Methods Iterative, stakeholder driven, realist synthesis following RAMESES publication standards. It involved: 1) scoping literature and stakeholder interviews (n = 13) to develop initial programme theory/ies, 2) systematic searches for evidence to test and develop the theories, and 3) validation of programme theory/ies with stakeholders (n = 11). We searched PubMed, The Cochrane Library, Scopus, Google, Google Scholar, and undertook lateral searches. All types of evidence were included. Results We included 88 papers; 29 focused on older people or people with complex needs. We identified four context-mechanism-outcome configurations that together provide an account of what needs to be in place for SDM to work for older people with complex needs. This includes: understanding and assessing patient and carer values and capacity to access and use care, organising systems to support and prioritise SDM, supporting and preparing patients and family carers to engage in SDM and a person-centred culture of which SDM is a part. Programmes likely to be successful in promoting SDM are those that allow older people to feel that they are respected and understood, and that engender confidence to engage in SDM. Conclusions To embed SDM in practice requires a radical shift from a biomedical focus to a more person-centred ethos. Service providers will need support to change their professional behaviour and to better organise and deliver services. Face to face interactions, permission and space to discuss options, and continuity of patient-professional relationships are key in supporting older people with complex needs to engage in SDM. Future research needs to focus on inter-professional approaches to SDM and how families and carers are involved.