Defining and disambiguating patient-centredness

Summary: Today, we are coming to recognise that patient-centredness is fundamental to the nature of medicine. It was integral to medical practice prior to the scientific era, but its loss began in the move towards technical practice that started in the 17th century and the professionalisation of the social roles of physician and surgeon in the 18th century onwards. A century later, its loss became evident and it began to emerge again (Putnam, 1899), boosted by the development of nursing but struggling to cope with reductionist approaches in science and the rapid development of technology. In the latter half of the 20th century, with an expansion of identity-politics, patient-centredness was rediscovered as an equally essential aspect of medicine rather than as an alternative to quasi-scientific medical practice. What is patient-centredness, what is it not, and what is its potential? Our conclusions in this paper are based on a critical review of the literature on patient-centredness, of which the appended Bibliography forms a small sample with some key references.

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