BACKGROUND There is a recognized need to assess the effects of shared decision-making and other communication interventions. However, the outcomes usually assessed for evidence of 'effectiveness' are determined by researchers and have not been based on consumers' views. AIM This study aimed to identify the important outcomes of consultations for consumers, and to compare with those reported in the current literature. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS Forty-seven participants attending six focus group interviews. Most interviews took place in and all were orientated towards the UK primary care setting. METHODS Focus group study. RESULTS Many affective outcomes were identified, consistent with the current literature trends. However, many cognitive and behavioural outcomes that are assessed in the current literature were not noted by participants as important. Furthermore, a broader range of outcomes than is evident in the current literature was viewed as important to these participants. CONCLUSIONS There is a need to revisit the outcomes which are assessed in decision-making and communication research. The outcomes of greatest importance to consumers must be identified and confirmed by new research which is based directly on the views of consumers themselves.