'The more you know, the more you realise it is really challenging to do': Tensions and uncertainties in person-centred support for people with long-term conditions

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30 August 2018

Title

'The more you know, the more you realise it is really challenging to do': Tensions and uncertainties in person-centred support for people with long-term conditions

Authors

Vikki A Entwhistle, Alan Cribb, Ian S Watt, Zoe C Skea, Health M Morgan, Simon Christmas

Published journal

Patient Education and Counseling

Abstract

Objective

To identify and examine tensions and uncertainties in person-centred approaches to self-management support – approaches that take patients seriously as moral agents and orient support to enable them to live (and die) well on their own terms.

Methods

Interviews with 26 UK clinicians about working with people with diabetes or Parkinson’s disease, conducted within a broader interdisciplinary project on self-management support. The analysis reported here was informed by philosophical reasoning and discussions with stakeholders.

Results

Person-centred approaches require clinicians to balance tensions between the many things that can matter in life, and their own and each patient’s perspectives on these. Clinicians must ensure that their supportive efforts do not inadvertently disempower people. When attending to someone’s particular circumstances and perspectives, they sometimes face intractable uncertainties, including about what is most important to the person and what, realistically, the person can or could do and achieve. The kinds of professional judgement that person-centred working necessitates are not always acknowledged and supported.

Conclusion

Practical and ethical tensions are inherent in person-centred support and need to be better understood and addressed.

Practice implications

Professional development and service improvement initiatives should recognise these tensions and uncertainties and support clinicians to navigate them well.

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Citation

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2018.03.028
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