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A framework for doing person-centred health research

Stephen Buetow


Andrew Miles and Juan Mezzich have called for immediate action in the design, development and implementation of research methodologies to translate the philosophy of person‑centred medicine into routine health practice.   This paper responds to that clarion call by taking the first step of sketching an integrated conceptual framework for evaluating the person‑centredness of different study designs and facilitating the conscious practice of person-centred health research in order to advance knowledge and improve health outcomes.  From the assumption that person-centred research is most comfortably anti-realist, I have schematically mapped the person-centredness of individual study designs against the personhood of the study participants and the personhood of the researcher respectively.  The person-centredness of these designs is assessed through a criteria sieve, including a 5-Cs framework, and deemed to be strengthened by designs that are case-oriented, co-constructed, caring, contextualized and complete.  Strongly person-centred research is suited to clinical settings including family practice, but it can be productively mixed with study designs that are weakly person-centred, for example through approaches that are dialectical or are pragmatic. The next step is to review and refine my framework, before using it to inform and assess the design and practice of health research, policy and personal and public health care.  


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