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GW Student Publishes Commentary Calling for Federal Support of Shared Decision Making in Medicine

WASHINGTON (July 19, 2013) – Shared Decision Making (SDM) may lead to more patient-centered care and reduced health care costs if federal policy supports its implementation, according to Jessica Osborne-Stafsnes, a soon-to-be graduate of the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) master's degree program in Health Care Quality.

Osborne-Stafsnes’ commentary, “Shared Decision Making: Using Federal Health Policy as a Lever to Support Implementation,” was recently published in the Journal of Participatory Medicine. She experienced first-hand the importance of SDM while working on a project about preference-sensitive care variation with the medical community in Humboldt County, Calif.

“Humboldt County serves as just one example of many medical communities across the United States that have stimulated ground-level buy-in and enthusiasm, but may fumble with next steps given the lack of federal policy to provide a framework or financial incentive for their efforts,” wrote Osborne-Stafsnes.

Through her research, she found that current uses of SDM are few and far between. While there is a lack of federal progress, a small number of states, including Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Maine, and Vermont, have had their state policies incentivize the acceptance of SDM. This could help build a case for enhancing federal policy to support wider implementation of this approach.

“Building upon 2009 state legislation, Vermont has planned for a SDM demonstration project to be integrated in state-wide health reform strategy. Similarly, Oregon has undergone efforts to incorporate SDM into medical home standards and implement SDM in the state’s newly developed Coordinated Care Organizations,” wrote Osborne-Stafsnes, who believes that these state-level initiatives can serve as the basis for implementation of SDM by the federal government.

She submitted the article as part of an assignment for the course HSCI 6240 – Issues and Trends in Health Systems, taught by Perry Payne, M.D., J.D., M.P.P., assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Research and Leadership at GW SMHS. Osborne-Stafsnes was surprised by the publication of her piece, and is “appreciative that Dr. Payne created course assignments that have real life applicability.”

According to Payne, “the assignment had to be current, interesting, and in-line with what they’ve been studying.” He praised Osborne-Stafsnes, saying “This is not common. It's hard to publish an article when you're competing with scholars who write articles for a living…I’m excited, elated, and glad that it happened – it’s a reward outside of the classroom for Jessica.”

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