Exploring the attitudes & practices of shared decision-making for CT scan use in emergency department patients with abdominal pain

Published:September 18, 2018DOI:



      Shared decision-making (SDM) has been studied in the emergency department (ED) in relation to hospital admissions but not for CT scan utilization. CT scans are a common imaging modality with high accuracy that emit considerable ionizing radiation. This study has three aims: to measure provider and patient preference for SDM; to evaluate patient involvement in the decision to order a CT scan; and to determine the association between patient involvement and CT utilization.


      In this prospective study, stable ED patients with abdominal pain with CT imaging as a likely diagnostic tool, were screened and consented. The Control Preferences Scale assessed patient and provider baseline decision-making preference. Using the OPTION-5 tool, providers were assessed in each encounter for the extent to which they engaged patients in discussions. The association between the Control Preferences Scale, the OPTION-5 score and ultimate CT utilization was evaluated.


      Twenty-nine encounters were observed. CT was considered in 70% (n = 20) of encounters and ordered in 55% (n = 16). 62% of patients and 59% of providers reported that they prefer “shared responsibility” when making treatment decisions. In >80% of encounters, provider's showed no or minimal effort when discussing whether to perform a CT scan. Provider or patient preference was not associated with patient involvement. Patient involvement was not associated with CT utilization.


      High rates of provider and patient preference to use SDM for treatment plans were reported but providers were rarely observed engaging patients with abdominal pain in the decision to order a CT scan.


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