Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice

From persons to patients and back

Early View

Abstract In this paper, I will show how philosophical theory can be applied in the most fundamental area of health care practice, the relationship between the provider and the receiver of care. I will look at the process of becoming a patient and remaining a person. This will begin with a discussion of Heidegger's notion of solicitude alongside the related notions of concern and care, leading to the affirmation of authentic solicitude as the most ontologically appropriate relationship between those who provide and those who receive care. I will then try to understand what happens to us when we become patients and to see what factors make it difficult for us to be persons as well as patients, within the health care environment. This will be followed by a brief discussion of the ancient idea of phronesis (wisdom) in which I will attempt to elucidate, from the side of the health care professional, the way that their relationship with patients can work in a way that recognizes personhood in their patients. I will also consider the dialectical nature of the relationship between patients and doctors (and everyone else who treats us) and try to understand how this points towards the conclusion of a person‐centred approach to health care. Following this discussion, I will offer a couple of examples of what person‐centred health care might look like in practice, as a means of illustrating, in practical terms, the philosophical approach that I have used.

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