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Person Centered Communication in Healthcare: A Matter of Reaching Out

Sandra van Dulmen


Treating patients as persons, by considering, a.o., their individual level of understanding, self-management skills, concerns and care preferences, is only logical, at least from an ethical point of view. Yet, in medical practice, such an approach does not come easy, as many other obligations and formalities have to be taken care of which distract attention from the person behind the patient. As a consequence, many patients continue to experience barriers while communicating with their healthcare provider [1]. For this reason, numerous interventions have been developed and implemented to either increase healthcare professionals’ attitudes and communication skills to really engage with a patient, or to strengthen a patient's communication skills in order to be heard and understood. For patients with malignant lymphoma, for example, a tailored online intervention has been developed to increase their participation [2], and medical students learn to listen by using open questions in soliciting patient problems [3]. The three papers that together form a special section on communication in healthcare in this issue of the IJPCM each describe a different study aimed to enhance a patient's personhood.


Person-centered, Communication, Healthcare, Patient Engagement, Patient Self-understanding, Patient Self-management, Patient Care Preferences, Ethics, Care Barriers, Skills, Attitudes.

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Henselmans, I., Heijmans, M., Rademakers, J., Dulmen, S. van (2015). Participation of chronic patients in medical consultations: patients' perceived efficacy, barriers and interest in support. Health Expect;18(6):2375-2388.

Bruinessen, I.R. van, Weel-Baumgarten, E.M. van, Snippe, H.W., Gouw, H., Zijlstra, J.M., Dulmen, S. van. (2014). User driven eHealth. Patient participatory development and testing of a computer tailored communication training for patients with malignant lymphoma. JMIR Research Protocols; 3(4): e59

Tsai, M.H., Lu, F.H., Frankel, R.M. (2013). Learning to listen: Effects of using conversational transcripts to help medical students improve their use of open questions in soliciting patient problems. Patient Educ Couns; 93: 48-55.



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