Seven Dimensions of Contextualized Care

Main Article Content

Ted Epperly


Medicine and health care in general are fascinating careers. It is important to recognize that health care and its provision should be focused on the people we are caring for , rather than on the system and the providers who provide that care. It's about our patients and not about us. In order to provide the best person-centered health care to people we must understand who they are as people and the context of their illness and their lives. The seven dimensions in which the context of care becomes important are: family/social, physical, mental/emotional, financial, occupational, spiritual, and health literacy. This paper explores these seven dimensions as they provide insight and meaning to caring for people and underscore the importance of the physician-person relationship as the central axis of trust in which health care not only occurs but succeeds.

Article Details

Regular Articles
Author Biography

Ted Epperly, Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, Boise; and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle

Ted Epperly, M.D., FAAFP, a family physician in Boise, Idaho, is the immediate past board chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians.  Previously, he served one-year terms as president and president-elect and three years as a member of the AAFP Board of Directors.Epperly is program director and chief executive officer of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, Boise.  He also is clinical professor of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.  As AAFP board chair, Epperly advocates on behalf of family physicians and patients nationwide to inspire positive change in the U.S. health care system.A member of the AAFP since 1980, Epperly has advocated in many ways on behalf of family medicine and the patients the specialty serves.  He has utilized his academic experience in a variety of roles on the Commission on Education, including being the chairman.  He chaired the Program Directors Workshop Planning Committee for the Family Medicine Residency Directors National Workshop for three years.  He also has served as AAFP board liaison to the Commission of Practice Enhancement, Commission on Continuing Professional Development and the Commission on Health of the Public.Epperly has held all the elected positions in the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians, including president.  He joined the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians when he retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Army in 2001 and returned to his home state of Idaho.Epperly earned his bachelor’s degree at Utah State University, Logan, graduating magna cum laude.  He earned his medical degree at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and completed his residency at Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Washington, where he served as chief resident.  He completed a family medicine faculty development fellowship at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.Epperly is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine with a Certificate of Added Qualification in Geriatrics.  He also has the AAFP Degree of Fellow, an earned degree awarded to family physicians for distinguished service and continuing medical education.Epperly is a member of the editorial board of the Annals of Family Medicine and the advisory board of Men’s Health.  He also is a reviewer for the Annals of Family Medicine and American Family Physician.  He was a residency assistance program consultant before becoming a member of the Accreditation Council for the Graduate Medical Education Residency Review Committee for family medicine, which is responsible for the accreditation of the nation’s family medicine residencies, sports medicine and geriatrics fellowships.Epperly serves as a commissioner of the Central District Board of Health for the four-county area surrounding Boise.  In addition, he has published more than 45 peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters, and given hundreds of lectures nationally and internationally.  Epperly has done over 500 media interviews with all major TV, radio, newspapers and magazines.  He has met and spoken with President Obama on several occasions including the oval office and testified before Congress on multiple occasions about the centrality and importance of family medicine.  Modern Healthcare ranks Epperly as one of the 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare regarding health care in our nation.


Epperly TE. Contextualized Approach to Enduring Clinical Complexity. Paper presented at the 5th Geneva Conference on Person Centered Medicine, International College of Person Centered Medicine, May 2012.

Wikiquote. [Internet]. Confucius. [cited 2013 Aug]. Available from:

Healthwise. [Internet]. Healthwise Health Coaching. [cited 2013 Aug]. Available from:

Epperly TE. Fracture: America’s Broken Health Care System and What We Must Do to Heal It. 1st ed. New York: Sterling & Ross, 2012. Chapter 3, Why Is Our Health Care System Failing Us Now?; p. 46.

Epperly TE. Fracture: America’s Broken Health Care System and What We Must Do to Heal It. 1st ed. New York: Sterling & Ross; 2012. Chapter 2, What Is Wrong With Our Health Care System?; p. 8.

Pink D. A Whole New Mind. New York: Penguin Group, 2006.