Intended for healthcare professionals


Implementing person centred approaches

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 11 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4126
  1. Ellen Nolte, head of London hubs
  1. European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
  1. Ellen.Nolte{at}

Education and training of the workforce is crucial but so is the wider policy framework that influences behaviours

Political and policy declarations now widely acknowledge that the individual should be at the heart of the health system.123 A person centred approach has been advocated on political, ethical, and instrumental grounds and is believed to benefit service users, health professionals, and the health system more broadly.4 The underlying premise is that people requiring healthcare should be treated with respect and dignity, and that care should take into account their needs, wants, and preferences.5

However, although there is widespread agreement that person centredness is important, the concept itself remains subject to debate, with different perspectives attaching different meanings and with different implications. Studies exploring understanding of self management—a core component of a person centred approach 6—have shown that many outcomes important to people receiving care are rarely mentioned by health professionals. These include maintaining independence and a desire that the health problem should …

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