The state of play in person-centred care

A person-centred approach can transform a person’s experience of care, but a lack of common definitions and terminology may hinder its use in practice. 


Our health systems are too disease-focused, fragmented and paternalistic. To ensure optimal outcomes are achieved for patients, systems must promote integrated care and foster a true partnership with patients. 

There is promising evidence that many aspects of person-centred care are improving people’s lives and making healthcare delivery more effective.

Person-centred care has evolved differently in different fields. Good practice models have often been developed within the confines of their specific disease, setting, sector or region.

There is a lack of common terminology, which may hinder implementation of person-centred care. There is significant ongoing debate around fundamental principles such as conceptual definitions and whether person-centred care can – or should – be measured.

What we achieved

HPP led an international environment scan to build an overarching picture of the state of play in person-centred care. We identified some of the key research and contributions to this evolving field.

The work drew on expert interviews with 40 leading commentators around the world. It spanned literature and qualitative input from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden, among many other countries.

It draws on evidence from around the world to highlight the current picture in person-centred care, and understand where global discussion is heading.

As part of the project, we developed a directory of person-centred care organisations. The project was funded by The Health Foundation, and the directory is hosted on their website.

The global synthesis report identified key areas of activity in the implementation and measurement of person-centred care:

  1. Organisational development is a powerful tool to embrace person-centred care in practice.
  2. Formal education and training are needed to equip the workforce for person-centred care.
  3. Support for professional ethics and values is vital – not just a ‘nice to have’.
  4. Communication, shared decision-making, co-production and self-management are some of the most operationalised components of person-centred care.
  5. Integrated care and health IT can be huge enablers of person-centred care.
  6. Measurement is a critical test for person-centred care in the mainstream.
  7. We need to develop, and apply, more person-led outcomes and measures.

The directory of person-centred care organisations is a useful tool for identifying hubs of person-centred care research, measurement and implementation, in various settings across the world. It encourages and enables collaboration among interested organisations.

‘Evidence-based medicine has become the dominant framework in medical practice. But people forget that research alone doesn’t tell you what is best for a given patient, with their own preferences and in their own context… Clinicians should bring the evidence to a conversation with the patients, and then deliberate and decide together.’  

Dr Victor Montori

Mayo Clinic, USA

Key partners and stakeholders

  • The Health Foundation
  • European Society of Person-Centred Healthcare