Person Centered Primary Heath Care: The Role and Positionof the Family Physician-Generalist and Implications for Research

Main Article Content

Chris van Weel


Aim. This paper analyses how the role and function of family physicians in primary health care relates to person centeredness. Method. Based on the model of the Ecology of Medical Care the interaction of individuals with health care has been deduced and from this were identified main implications for the provision of care. Results. Individuals experience a large variety of health problems over time, of which only a minority is presented to health care professionals, with care in the direct vicinity (community) the most likely place of contact. From this, common health problems and their prognosis, self-care and autonomy, reasons for contact, multi-morbidity and community related social determinants of health define the conditions to provide health care for all health problems in all individuals.Discussion and Conclusions. The variety of health problems presented over time for individual-specific expectations, make the person with the health problem the self-evident focus of care. The person-centered approach serves to relate the patient’s agenda to professional considerations of the nature and prognosis of the health problem identified and the risks and benefits of treatment. From this, the importance can be established of continuity of care, shared decision making, individual prognostication and ascertaining individual risks from community-specific determinants of health. Priorities of research are to come to a better understanding of the mechanisms of continuity of care and the building of professional relations of trust. Other priorities of research are to strengthen the knowledge base of diagnosis, prognostication and interventions of frequent health problems in the community.

Article Details

Regular Articles
Author Biography

Chris van Weel, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen

Professor of Family Medicine and Chair of the Department of Primary and Community Care, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands Founder and Chair of the EU Erasmus exchange programme Primary Care for medical students.Prof van Weel's academic work is directed at teaching and research in primary care. This has resulted in the development of a community oriented curriculum (introduced in 1995) in which primary care plays a leading role. His research programme of chronic diseases in family practice is part of the Nijmegen Centre 'Evidence Based medical Practice' and the Netherlands School of Primary Care Research (CaRe) of which he is one of the founders. An academic practice based research network provides the essential data for this programme: The Nijmegen Continuous Morbidity Registration / Monitoring Project. In 2009 he was appointed Principal Investigator of the Radboud University Medical Centre.Awards and distinctions:Honorary Fellow Hong Kong College of Family Physicians, June 2009Honorary Fellow Philippine Academy of Family Physicians, 2009Maurice Wood Award NAPCRG, 2008Officer Order of Oranje-Nassau, 2007Honorary Member Dutch College of General Practitioners, 2007Honorary Fellow Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, 2007Eric Elder Medal, Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, 2006Honorary Doctorate (Doctor Honoris Causa), University of Ghent, Belgium, 2003Honorary Member Italian Academy of Family Physicians (DIMF) 2000William Pickles Lecturer, Royal College of General Practitio­ners, Nottingham, 1992.Honorary Fellow Royal College of General Practitioners, UK, 1991. From 2007 – 2010 Prof van Weel was President of  Wonca, the World Organization of Family Doctors.


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