Shared decision making

Healthcare professionals need to communicate information about risk to patients on a daily basis. Often this requires analysing and conveying complex information.


The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Healthcare professionals need to communicate information about risk to patients on a daily basis. Often this requires analysing and conveying complex information.

To help healthcare professionals do this effectively, RANZCOG has released an updated version of the Helping Patients Make Informed Decisions module, which is now available through Acquire.

The module, designed to help healthcare professionals develop and refine the skills required to talk effectively about the benefits and risks of treatment options with patients, was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality and Quality in Health Care in consultation with RANZCOG.

The release of the module forms part of broader initiatives by RANZCOG to support obstetric care that brings together respect for the patient’s values, goals and preferences with the best available evidence about benefits, risks and uncertainties of treatment, in order to reach the most appropriate healthcare decisions for that person.

RANZCOG’s Informed Birth Project

Quality maternity care is fundamental to the health of every community. It should be guided by the best available evidence and delivered with the individual woman as its focus.

Women should receive accurate and evidence-based information about the benefits and risks to enable informed and timely decisions about mode of birth. Choice is important within maternity care, and clear information about each option should be available to all pregnant women.

Collaboration between the health professionals caring for pregnant women is fundamental to optimising outcomes for women and their babies. This includes discussing history and management issues in ways that respect and empower women in their care, considering their personal beliefs and experiences and their social, economic and cultural background.

Many women report difficulties in accessing reliable, comprehensive, evidence-based information about the risks and associated outcomes of vaginal birth, instrumental birth and caesarean sections. Consequently, there is a risk of decision-making based on poor or minimal information which could contribute to adverse outcomes for both the mother and the baby.

In 2021 RANZCOG initiated an Informed Birth Project which is developing resources for healthcare professionals to help them inform women of their options and risks associated with vaginal, instrumental and caesarean section births.

The work, which is being overseen by the RANZCOG Informed Birth Working Group, consisting of consumers and experts in obstetrics, midwifery, primary care, research, law, psychology and physiotherapy, is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

The project is also supported by the RANZCOG Consumer Network.

If you have any questions, email Maheshie Jayawickrama,

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