Person-centered Medicine in the United States VA Health System: A Literature Review

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Yulin Chu
Juan Mezzich


Person Centered Medicine (PCM) has been described across healthcare fields nationally and internationally over the past decades. There have been, however, no attempts to appraise systematically the relevant literature from the US VA health care system, important because it is the largest integrated in the country with over 200 hospitals and health facilities. The present study was aimed at conducting such literature review using “person-centered medicine”, “patient-centered medicine”, “individualized care”, and “people-centered care” as key words, and engaging PubMed and MeSH electronic data bases from 1997 to 2011, inclusively. The review yielded 31 articles emerging from across the United States, particularly from the East Coast. They covered a wide range of clinical settings, with a greater presence in primary care, rehabilitation and mental health. The numbers of published papers strikingly increased over the 15 years covered. All key features of PCM were identified across the articles, with a predominance of people-centered development of services, ethical commitment, relationship focus, individualization of care, and person-centered education and research. These findings are seen to be in line with recent trends in the health field and enunciated aspirations within the VA health system. The large size and features of the VA health system may offer special opportunities to conceptualize, pilot, implement and evaluate PCM developments in a manner that may enhance this health system and stimulate health care model innovation across the country and beyond its borders.

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