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Activity description

76416 - Helping patients make informed decisions: communicating benefits and harms


On a daily basis, GPs need to communicate information about risks and benefits to patients. This often requires the ability to convey complex numerical information yet few clinicians have any significant training in how to do this.

This activity has been designed to help GPs communicate risk and provides a framework for assisting patients to share in decisions about their treatment. These concepts will be explored in the context of case scenarios, that are commonly seen in general practice.

Relevance to General Practice

Shared decision making (SDM) is seen as a hallmark of good clinical practice internationally. SDM is particularly important when the evidence doesn’t support a single superior option. Here multiple options, each with potential benefits, harms, trade-offs and uncertainties must be weighed up.

For patients (and carers) to understand and have the opportunity to be actively involved in sharing decisions, clinicians need to provide clear information about the options, and the potential benefits and harms of each. This information should also take into account the patient’s personal opinions, preferences, values and priorities.

One of the barriers to the implementation of shared decisions is potentially the lack of teaching of the ‘how to’. This activity outlines a model for shared decision making and explores strategies to communicate the risks and benefits of health care options.

Learning outcomes

  1. describe why it is important for clinicians to effectively communicate benefits, harms, trade offs and uncertainties with patients
  2. list key communication skills needed when talking with patients about evidence
  3. outline the role of decision support tools, potential uses and where to locate them
  4. document any exchanges that take place as part of the shared decision making process in a patient’s medical records

Domains of General Practice

D1. Communication skills and the patient-doctor relationship
  • Communication is clear, respectful, empathic and appropriate to the person and their sociocultural context

D2. Applied professional knowledge and skills
  • The conduct of the consultation is appropriate to the needs of the patient and the sociocultural context

D3. Population health and the context of general practice
D4. Professional and ethical role
  • Duty of care is maintained

D5. Organisational and legal dimensions

Curriculum Contextual Units

  • Adult health
  • Care of older people
  • Children and young people health
  • Custodial health
  • Doctor's health
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Men's health
  • Military medicine
  • Pregnancy care
  • Refugee and asylum seeker health
  • Residential care
  • Sex, sexuality, gender diversity and health
  • Women's health

Activity sponsor

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Session summary


Sunday 1 Jan 2017 12:00am - Tuesday 31 Dec 2019 11:59pm

This activity is readily available at any time







By invitation only

Target Audience


For more information contact...

gplearning Helpdesk
T: 1800284789