Person-centred Communications: How do People as Patients Want to be Spoken to?

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Joanna Groves


Background:The World Health Organization's (WHO) World Health Report of 2008 titled, “Primary Health Care – Now More Than Ever” put renewed emphasis on the values of achieving health for all and putting people at the centre of healthcare (1).  In order to do this it is necessary to understand what people expect and want from healthcare and pertinent communications so that health systems can be designed that can respond to patients' needs, wishes and preferences. Objectives:To consider the initiatives which are being taken forward by numerous national and global initiatives to further person-centred healthcare and consideration of the evidence for this approach with particular regard to the role of communication in enabling healthcare to meet people's needs, wishes and preferences.  Methods: Review of person-centred healthcare initiatives and evidence for its impact and consideration of principles of person-centred care as they relate to healthcare communications. Results:There is evidence for a person-centred approach to healthcare.  There are fundamental principles relating to how communications can impact on patients being empowered to make informed decisions about their healthcare.  Patient experiences and outcomes are improved when they have the opportunity for their wishes and preferences to inform shared decision-making in mutually trusting and equal partnerships with health professionals about their health and well being. Conclusions:Person-centred healthcare requires communication which enables respect for people's needs, preferences, dignity, values, autonomy and independence. Empowering patients and health professionals so that they can work in partnership to reach an informed decision on what the patient wants and expects from treatment should be the priority for policy-makers, health professionals and patients.  There are some fundamental principles and many tools and initiatives that can support good communication and enable shared decision-making. 

Article Details

Regular Articles
Author Biography

Joanna Groves, International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations

Chief Executive Officer, International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations, London, UK


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