Program graduate Lucy Gijzen, MD, (summer 2013) who is a military physician and consultant in diving and submarine medicine for the Royal Canadian Navy, titled her ISP “Shared Medical Decision Making in Military Medicine.”
Abstract of her ISP: Shared Decision Making (SDM), an interactive process where both patient and physician collaborate to decide on best medical practices, has been at the forefront of healthcare organizations across North America. Various barriers to SDM have been described in the literature but very little research has been done on the integration of SDM in a military context, where a more paternalistic approach is the norm. By means of a voluntary survey distributed to three outpatient clinics across Canadian military bases, this research project tried to ascertain if SDM was possible given the constraints of military medicine and to determine if and how military rank impacted on SDM between military doctors and patients. Interestingly, contrary to the original hypothesis that SDM would be difficult to implement in a military setting, the results of the survey strongly indicated that rank was not a limiting factor with respect to SDM and that patients were very satisfied with the medical care they received. Furthermore, the results showed that patients felt involved in their care, were comfortable in disagreeing with treatment plans and felt at ease to ask questions regarding their care. SDM’s ultimate goal is to embrace best clinical practices and place patients at the core of all medical decisions: this study showed that this, in fact, is possible in Canadian military clinics.