Person-Centered or Person-Focused Care?

Posted on in Clinical, News

Providing care to patients should focus on individual clinical presentations, impairments, and functional limitations. Clinicians should treat the patients as an individual. We need to be able to recognize patient belief systems, values, and expectations. Contextual factors can play a huge role in recovery, so we must take the time to identify potential contributing factors. Developing a framework will allow practitioners to appropriately develop a plan of care that is best suited for patient.

But here is the debate…is person-centered and person-focused the same thing?

The short answer is, yes and no. While it is important to provide care to the individual, there are various perspectives that can potentially lead the clinician to different approaches. The two terms relatively mean the same thing, however, there are some differences1

Interactions within visitsInterrelationships over time
Based on current episode of careViews diseases interrelated
Centered around management of diseasesConcerned with evolution of patient experience

Certain approaches to patient care need to be individualized. While both terms emphasize different ideas, both approaches will work for a specific patient. Sometimes we may need to incorporate both ideas as patient care can be dynamic, in which we equally need to become adaptable to those potential changes.

Person-Centered or Person-Focused Care?

Permission from David Poulter

While it is beneficial to focus on the patient as an individual, we must not forget what the patient is experiencing. Understanding these experiences are not only during office visits, but throughout their own respective everyday lives. Also, we need to recognize past experiences so we can better understand why patients develop certain perceptions and ideations. Understanding the patient’s experiences, perceptions, values, and beliefs will ultimately guide clinical decision making and help generate positive patient outcomes.

Article Written By Eric Trauber, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, FAAOMPT


Starfield B. Is patient-centered care the same as person-focused care? The Permanente Journal, Spring 2011, Volume 15(2): 63-69.