Improving Contraceptive Counseling through a Shared Decision Making Approach: A New Medical Curriculum

Family planning providers can help women choose a contraceptive method that is the best fit for their preferences, lifestyle and reproductive goals. Shared Decision Making (SDM) offers a framework to improve the quality and outcomes of contraceptive counseling with a patient-centered approach.

Preliminary studies indicate that SDM is consistent with women’s preferences for counseling, and results in increased patient satisfaction with the both the process, and the contraceptive method selected.

Shared Decision-Making in the Conceptive Counseling: 5 Key Points

  1. Build rapport and establish trust with the patient
  2. Elicit and inquire about the patient’s contraceptive preferences, without assuming that efficacy is of primary importance
  3. Provide the scaffolding for decision-making by providing evidence-based information including risks, benefits, and side-effects for contraceptive methods that best align with patients’ stated preferences. (May use decision aids to facilitate patient education and understanding)
  4. Facilitate the selection of a contraceptive method that fits with the patient’s preferences
  5. Ensure the patient understands that, if she is dissatisfied with her choice, their decision can be revisited, and make appropriate plans for follow-up.

UCSF’s Innovating Education in Reproductive Health has developed a Shared Decision-Making Contraceptive Counseling Curriculum describing SDM in the context of family planning. The curriculum provides tools that facilitate teaching medical and nursing students techniques for implementing SDM into their own patient encounters. This free curriculum designed by Dr. Christine Dehlendorf:

  • Describes SDM, and its relationship to other models of counseling used in the family planning.
  • Describes the basic steps to practicing SDM counseling in contraceptive counseling.
  • Gives learners the opportunity to practice contraceptive counseling using SDM and to receive peer evaluation.
  • Encourages learners to discuss challenges and limitations to the SDM model in the setting of contraceptive counseling.

Educators can determine where in their own institutions this curriculum may be implemented and adapt it to the needs of their learners. For more information about SDM, visit our Improving Contraceptive Counseling through Shared Decision-Making Curriculum page.