Review Article

Patient- or person-centred practice in medicine? – A review of concepts

Jakobus M. Louw, Tessa S. Marcus, Johannes F.M. Hugo
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 9, No 1 | a1455 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v9i1.1455 | © 2017 Jakobus M. Louw, Tessa S. Marcus, Johannes F.M. Hugo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 March 2017 | Published: 19 October 2017

About the author(s)

Jakobus M. Louw, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Tessa S. Marcus, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Johannes F.M. Hugo, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Person-centred practice in medicine may provide solutions to several pressing problems in health care, including the cost of services, poor outcomes in chronic care and the rise in litigation. It is also an ethical imperative in itself. However, patient- or person-centred care is not well researched partly because of a lack of conceptual and definitional clarity.
Aim: The aim of this review was to analyse essential elements, ethical principles, logic and the practical application of person-centred practice described in clinician- and researcher-defined conceptual frameworks, terms and practices.
Methods: A search of review articles on patient- and person-centred care or medicine was conducted using Medline and Google Scholar. Secondary searches were conducted using references and citations from selected articles.
Results: Five conceptual frameworks were identified in terms of their practical application of the ethical principles of beneficence, autonomy and justice. They converge around a few central ideas such as having a holistic perspective of patients and their illness experience, a therapeutic alliance between the patient and clinician as well as respectful, enabling collaboration with the patient.
Conclusions: Terminological differences appear to owe more to disciplinary origins than to substantive meaning. Beneficence needs to be balanced by and practised through respect for patient autonomy. Core ideas in existing conceptual frameworks of patient or person centredness can guide teaching and research. Considering the value and ethical imperative of person-centred practice, training institutions should train health care students and practitioners in its precepts.

Keywords

person centred practice; patient centred care; ethics

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