Person-centred care: Bridging current models of the clinician-patient relationship

Stephen Buetow


Modern medicine threatens the ability of the clinician and the patient to care, and be cared about as whole, human individuals in health care.  However, the interests of patients are put behind those of the population and, on the authority of professionalism and patient-centred care, ahead of those of clinicians.  This situation has prompted the development of new models of the clinician-patient relationship: relationship-centred care, care as a ‘window mirror’ and person-centred care.  From my own vantage in primary care, this paper will discuss each of these models against the backdrop of so called patient-centred care.  This comparison will apply a common standard that differentiates light from shadow, both as physical phenomena that represent images in the world and as concepts that indicate what is present beyond representation.  I conclude that at least in continuing clinician‑patient relationships, which still characterize primary care, person-centred care maximizes the range of illumination in which clinicians and patients can be seen as individuals in social interaction. 

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