Views & Reviews Review

How to create partnerships with patients

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 29 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7578
  1. Clare Gerada, chair of council, Royal College of General Practitioners, London EC4M 9DQ,
  2. Maeve Lawrence, general practitioner and clinical fellow to Clare Gerada, Royal College of General Practitioners
  1. Correspondence to: C Gerada cgerada{at}

Patients are an underused resource in all aspects of healthcare, says this practical guide. Clare Gerada and Maeve Lawrence agree that the focus must shift to people rather than problems

As medical students, our focus was on learning facts and figures to develop a sound knowledge base. We learnt how to assess patients systematically by identifying their complaints, expanding the history of these complaints, and then gleaning other facts about the patient that may be relevant. It was problem—not person—focused. Patients were obviously factored into this equation, but as a receptacle of the problem and a conveyor of information from which to elucidate said problem.

Since then there has been a shift: patients have emerged as people—not problems—with families, interests, wants, and needs. One of the central tenets of …

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