Patient Assessments of the Most Important Medical Decision During a Hospitalization

  • Thomas V. Perneger
  • Agathe Charvet-Bérard
  • Arnaud Perrier
Original Article



How medical decisions are made in real-life situations is largely unexplored. We explored patients’ perceptions of decision-making during a hospitalization and examined the conformity of the decision process with expert recommendations.


To describe the conformity of the decision-making process with current expert opinion and examine the associations between various aspects of the decision-making process and a global assessment of the decision.


Mail survey of patients discharged from a teaching hospital in Geneva, Switzerland. Patients identified the main medical decision during their stay, and rated the decision process (11-item “decision process score”) and their satisfaction with the decision (five-item “decision satisfaction score”). Both scores were scaled between 0 (worst) and 100 (best).


The survey had 1467 respondents.

Main Results

In total 862 (58.8%) of 1467 respondents reported having made a medical decision while in the hospital. The decision process score (mean 78.5, SD 21.5) and the decision satisfaction score (mean 86.5, SD 20.4) were moderately correlated (r = 0.62). Men, healthier patients, patients discharged from the department of surgery, and those who reported sharing the decision with their doctor gave the highest ratings on both scales. Five process variables were independently associated with high satisfaction with the decision: the doctor explained all possible treatments and examinations, the patient was aware of risks at the time of the decision, the doctor’s explanations were easy to understand, the patient was involved in the decision as much as desired or more, and the patient was not pressured into the decision.


A majority of patients discharged from a general hospital were able to identify and rate a medical decision. Recommended features of the process of medical decision-making were associated with greater satisfaction with the decision.


shared decision-making patient-centeredness patient survey quality of care 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas V. Perneger
    • 1
    • 3
  • Agathe Charvet-Bérard
    • 1
    • 3
  • Arnaud Perrier
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Clinical EpidemiologyUniversity Hospitals of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Division of General of Internal MedicineUniversity Hospitals of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.University of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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