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Shared Decision Making - 3 CME Credits

Engage your patients to improve your clinical practice

Start Date: January 7, 2019
Duration: ~ 3 hours
Price: $149

Course Description

Course registration is currently closed while we upgrade our learning platform with enhanced functionality and self-service options for learners. If you would like to be notified when the course re-opens in March 2020, please click here.

Shared decision making (SDM) is an approach to involving patients in medical decisions that is appropriate when clinical evidence supports more than one approach to care. To be skilled in SDM, clinicians must be competent and confident in providing patients with evidence-based information about treatment options and outcomes, and explore patient goals and preferences in order to determine the best treatment for each patient.

This online activity will highlight the main gaps and challenges to engaging patients in shared decision making and demonstrate practical strategies to overcome those challenges in conversations with patients. Participants will learn how to use SDM in clinical practice to improve their ability to communicate risks and benefits to patients, to communicate the likelihood and probability of risks and benefits of tests and treatments, and their ability to elicit patient preferences.

This course is designed for nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, primary care physicians, and specialty care physicians. It should take approximately 3 hours to complete.

What You'll Learn

  • Identify the components of shared decision-making conversations
  • Identify opportunities for shared decision making in clinical practice
  • Recognize practical tips for conducting shared decision-making conversations with your patients
  • Describe the skills needed to apply shared decision making to interactive and realistic patient cases


Karen Sepucha, PhD

Karen Sepucha, PhD Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Director, Health Decision Sciences Center

Leigh Simmons, MD

Leigh Simmons, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Medical Director, Health Decision Sciences Center


Shared Decision Making is organized as follows:

Precourse Information:
Accreditation and AMA Credit Designation
Disclosure Statement
How to Take This Course
Viewing Videos
Grading and Certificates

Module 1: Overview of Shared Decision Making (SDM)
Definitions of Shared Decision Making
Case Study: Osteoarthritis
Applications of Shared Decision Making
Guidelines and Decision Aids
Module 1 Summary

Module 2: Seven Steps to Shared Decision Making
Step 1: Invite the Patient to Participate
A Case Study in High Cholesterol 1
Step 2: Decision Aids
A Case Study in High Cholesterol 2
Seven Steps to the SDM Process
Module 2 Summary

Module 3: Case Study: Using the SDM Process
Pitfalls, Goals, and Types of Decision Making
Presenting Risks and Benefits
Helping Patients Define their Treatment Preferences
Module 3 Summary

Module 4: Case Studies

Certificate of Completion
Participations will complete a post-test and be provided a link to the course evaluation after earning a 75% or higher. After completion of the course evaluation, learners will be provided their certificate of completion (CME or CNE).



The Harvard Medical School is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


The Harvard Medical School designates this enduring material for a maximum of 3 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Risk Management

This activity meets the criteria of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for 2 credits of Risk Management Study. Please check your individual state licensing board requirements before claiming these credits.


This continuing nursing education activity was approved by ANA Massachusetts, Inc., an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. This activity was approved for 3.00 contact hours. This activity will expire on 12/14/2020.


Disclosure Policy

Harvard Medical School has long held the standard that its continuing medical education courses be free of commercial bias.

In accord with the disclosure policy of the Medical School as well as standards set forth by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), course planners, speakers, and content reviewers have been asked to disclose any relevant relationship they, or their spouse or partner, have to companies producing, marketing, re-selling or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients. In addition, faculty have been asked to list any off-label uses of pharmaceuticals and/or devices for investigational or non-FDA approved purposes that they plan to discuss.

Such disclosure is not intended to suggest or condone bias in any presentation, but is elicited to provide the course director and participants with information that might be of potential importance to their evaluation of a given presentation.

Disclosure Statement

All individuals including course directors, planners, reviewers, faculty, staff, etc., who are in a position to control the content of this educational activity have, on behalf of themselves and their spouse or partner, reported no financial relationships related to the content of this activity.


Karen Sepucha, PhD is the director of the Health Decision Sciences Center in the General Medicine Division at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her research and clinical interests involve developing and implementing tools and methods to improve the quality of significant medical decisions made by patients and clinicians. Dr. Sepucha was the medical editor for a series of five breast cancer patient decision aids (PtDAs) developed by the not-for-profit Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making. The PtDAs have won seven media awards, and Dr. Sepucha has led the dissemination of these programs to dozens of academic and community cancer centers across the country.

She is also responsible for efforts to implement shared decision making tools into primary and specialty care at Mass General. Her recent research has focused on the development of instruments to measure the quality of decisions which have been used in a national survey of medical decisions, and a subset of the items is being evaluated for use in CAHPS as part of the primary care medical home certification.

Dr. Sepucha has been active in local, national, and international efforts to improve decision quality, including the International Patient Decision Aids Standards collaboration. She has her PhD in Engineering-Economic Systems and Operations Research at Stanford University, with a focus in decision sciences.

Leigh Simmons, MD is an internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her research interests include patient engagement in care and shared decision making.

Dr. Simmons is on the staff at the John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation and the Health Decision Sciences Center, where she studies the use of decision aids to help patients and clinicians in the shared decision-making process. Her clinical practice is with the Internal Medicine Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In addition to her clinical and research interests, Dr. Simmons is a medical student educator and directs the internal medicine clerkship for Harvard Medical School students at Massachusetts General Hospital.


How long will this course take?

This course should take approximately 3 hours to complete. You do not need to complete it all at once. You may come back as often as you like.

How long will this course be available?

This self-paced course will close enrollments one year after its start date.

What web browser should I use?

The platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 11 and above. See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.

What if I want to learn more about this topic?

HMS Continuing Education holds live topic-focused conferences throughout the year. Please see our course catalog for upcoming events.