Transforming Doctor-Patient Relationships to Promote Patient-Centered Care: Lessons from Palliative Care
Publish Year : 2007
Palliative care was studied for its potential to yield lessons for transforming doctor-patient relationships to promote patient-centered care. Examination of patient and provider experiences of the transition from curative to palliative care promises valuable insights about establishing and maintaining trust as the goals of care shift and about addressing a broad spectrum of patient needs. The study was guided by a conceptual framework grounded in existing models to address five dimensions of doctor-patient relationships: range of needs addressed, source of authority, maintenance of trust, emotional involvement, and expression of authenticity. Data collection included observation of the care of 40 patients in the inpatient hospice unit and at home, interviews with patients and family members, and in-depth interviews with 22 physicians and two nurses providing end-of-life care. Standard qualitative procedures were used to analyze the data, incorporating techniques for maximizing the validity of the results and broadening their relevance to other contexts. Findings provide evidence for challenging prominent assumptions about possibilities for doctor-patient relationships: questioning the merits of the prohibition on emotional involvement, dependence on protocols for handling difficult communication issues, unqualified reliance on consumer empowerment to assure that care is responsive to patients’ needs, and adoption of narrowly defined boundaries between medical and social service systems in caring for patients. Medical education can play a role in preparing doctors to assume new roles by openly addressing management of emotions in routine clinical work, incorporating personal awareness training, facilitating reflection on interactions with patients through use of standardized patients and videotapes, and expanding capacity to effectively address a broad range of needs through teamwork training.