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A call for community-shared decisions
  1. Jason N Doctor1,
  2. Daniella Meeker2,
  3. Craig R Fox3,
  4. Stephen D Persell4,
  5. Zachary Wagner5,
  6. Kathryn E Bouskill5,
  7. Kyle A Zanocco6,
  8. Robert J Romanelli7,
  9. Chad M Brummett8,
  10. Allison Kirkegaard5,
  11. Katherine E Watkins5
  1. 1University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy, Los Angeles, California, USA
  2. 2Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  3. 3University of California Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, Los Angeles, California, USA
  4. 4Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  5. 5RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California, USA
  6. 6University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA
  7. 7RAND Europe, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK
  8. 8University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Jason N Doctor, University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy, Los Angeles, California, USA; jdoctor{at}

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Shared decision-making in medicine is widely viewed as a collaboration between the patient and the clinician. For example, Montori et al state, ‘The patient and clinician must collaborate to arrive at a useful formulation of the problem’.1 Patients are encouraged to evaluate care choices in light of the benefits and harms of each, state their preferences and identify the best course of action along with their doctor.2 Despite its broad reach, shared decision-making solely between a patient and doctor has clear limits. Over 30 years ago, Brock and Wartman cautioned that ‘[p]atients do not have an unqualified right to make even rational individual choices that risk serious harm to others’.3 Elywin et al noted that ‘limits on shared decision-making will occur when… wider interests overrule individual wishes’.4 These authors lay out problems with shared decisions for antibiotics, opioids and vaccine hesitancy. A crucial gap is how to address these problems in practice.

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, overdoses from diverted opioid pills and the resurgence of measles are all medical problems that affect an individual through actions others in the community have taken. Here cooperation has either failed or has not been attempted at all. Lack of cooperation occurs when individuals believe it is in their best interest to deviate from the action that they would like others to take.5 While various forms of cooperative behaviour exist in the wild (eg, a large number of individuals choose to recycle, vote, tip at restaurants and donate to charity),5 there are barriers to cooperation in medicine that require special attention. Two of the biggest barriers are a lack of awareness that cooperation is needed and the implementation of approaches to encourage cooperation.

To address barriers, community members benefit from working towards a resolution on a common strategy that …

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  • Contributors JD wrote the first draft. All authors contributed to editing the manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Funding This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant number: 1R01DA046226; PI: Katherine E Watkins) and the National Institute on Aging (grant number: 5P30AG024968; MPI: Jason N Doctor and Dana Goldman). The funder did not have a role in the design and conduct of the study; the collection, management, analysis and interpretation of the data; preparation, review or approval of the manuscript; or decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

  • Competing interests JD receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and Edwards Lifesciences.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.