Interventions for providers to promote a patient-centred approach in clinical consultations

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(4):CD003267. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003267.


Background: Communication problems in health care may arise as a result of health care providers focusing on diseases and their management, rather than people, their lives and their health problems. Patient-centred approaches to care are increasingly advocated by consumers and clinicians and incorporated into training for health care providers. The effects of interventions that aim to promote patient-centred care need to be evaluated.

Objectives: To assess the effects of interventions for health care providers that aim to promote patient-centred approaches in clinical consultations.

Search strategy: We searched Medline (1966 - Dec 1999); Health Star (1975 - Dec 1999); PsycLit (1887- Dec 1999); Cinahl (1982 - Dec 1999); Embase (1985-Dec 1999) and the bibliographies of studies assessed for inclusion.

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials, controlled clinical trials, controlled before and after studies, and interrupted time series studies of interventions for health care providers that promote patient-centred care in clinical consultations. Patient-centred care was defined as a philosophy of care that encourages: (a) shared control of the consultation, decisions about interventions or management of the health problems with the patient, and/or (b) a focus in the consultation on the patient as a whole person who has individual preferences situated within social contexts (in contrast to a focus in the consultation on a body part or disease). The participants were health care providers, including those in training.

Data collection and analysis: Two reviewers independently extracted data onto a standard form and assessed study quality for each study. We extracted all outcomes other than health care providers' knowledge, attitudes and intentions.

Main results: 17 studies met the inclusion criteria. These studies display considerable heterogeneity in terms of the interventions themselves, the health problems or health concerns on which the interventions focused, the comparisons made and the outcomes assessed. All included studies used training for health care providers as an element of the intervention. Ten studies evaluated training for providers only, while the remaining studies utilised multi-faceted interventions where training for providers was one of several components. The health care providers were mainly primary care physicians (general practitioners or family doctors) practising in community or hospital outpatient settings. In two studies, the providers also included nurses. There is fairly strong evidence to suggest that some interventions to promote patient-centred care in clinical consultations may lead to significant increases in the patient centredness of consultation processes. 12 of the 14 studies that assessed consultation processes showed improvements in some of these outcomes. There is also some evidence that training health care providers in patient-centred approaches may impact positively on patient satisfaction with care. Of the eleven studies that assessed patient satisfaction, six demonstrated significant differences in favour of the intervention group on one or more measures. Few studies examined health care behaviour or health status outcomes.

Reviewer's conclusions: Interventions to promote patient-centred care within clinical consultations may significantly increase the patient centredness of care. However, there is limited and mixed evidence on the effects of such interventions on patient health care behaviours or health status; or on whether these interventions might be applicable to providers other than physicians. Further research is needed in these areas.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods*
  • Physician-Patient Relations