This research critically analysed the ways that collaborative approaches are currently described and started to examine what goes on in practice when clinicians and patients work together in ways they appreciate as meaningfully collaborative.

The report is of a research project undertaken by Professors Vikki Entwistle and Alan Cribb.

The project used a combination of philosophical analysis and discussions with clinicians and patients experienced in collaborative approaches to managing long-term conditions.

In the report, the authors reflect on clinicians’ and patients’ experiences and draw on ideas from development economics and social justice. They argue that thinking in terms of people’s capabilities, and how they live in relationship with others, may be able to help us understand and overcome some of the barriers to more collaborative working between health professionals and patients with long-term conditions.

The report also makes clear that, while the ways people describe collaborative approaches to healthcare can be helpful in indicating how care could be delivered differently, they can also be counter-productive. Current descriptions are developed within the dominant and traditional way of thinking about the patient-health professional relationship and this could be limiting the uptake and effectiveness of more collaborative ways of working.

Making care truly person-centred requires radically different ways of thinking. The ideas explored in this report suggest fresh ways of thinking about how patients and clinicians can work together in a meaningful partnership. Thinking in terms of capabilities and relational autonomy will not resolve tensions between patient and clinician priorities, but these concepts can help support much-needed discussion.

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