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How do health services researchers understand the concept of patient-centeredness? Results from an expert survey

Authors Scholl I, Zill JM, Härter M, Dirmaier J

Received 14 March 2014

Accepted for publication 4 June 2014

Published 30 August 2014 Volume 2014:8 Pages 1153—1160


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Isabelle Scholl, Jördis M Zill, Martin Härter, Jörg Dirmaier

Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

Background: The concept of patient-centeredness has gained in importance over recent decades, including its growing importance on a health policy level. However, many different definitions and frameworks exist. This renders both research and implementation into clinical practice difficult. This study aimed at assessing how German researchers conceptualize patient-centeredness, how they translate the German equivalent into English, and what they consider the most important references on the topic.
Methods: All researchers within a German research priority program on patient-centeredness were invited to participate in an online survey with open questions. The data regarding the definitions of patient-centeredness were analyzed using the method of conventional content analysis. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the responses on translations and references.
Results: Thirty-eight (28%) of 136 invited researchers participated in the study. The definitions given by the participants could be classified into ten categories: patient as a unique person, involvement in decision-making, patient information, essential characteristics of the physician, biopsychosocial perspective, patient empowerment, individualized services, patient-reported outcomes, involvement in health policy and coordination and teamwork. The results for the translation of the German word “Patientenorientierung” into English indicate that uncertainty regarding the appropriate English terminology exists. All participants provided a different reference on patient-centeredness that was important to them.
Conclusion: The results show a certain degree of “shared meaning” regarding the concept of patient-centeredness. However, they also indicate a considerable amount of “surplus meaning”, which can be seen as an indicator for the fuzziness of a theoretical concept. All in all, this study has shown that the conceptual ambiguity found in the literature on patient-centeredness is partly reflected in the conceptualizations of German researchers working in that field. This calls for more conceptual work, eg, developing an integrative model on patient-centeredness grounded in the international literature.

Keywords: patient-centered care, concept analysis, expert survey

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