Background: For a variety of sociological reasons, different types of centredness have become important in health and social care. In trying to characterize one type of centredness, we were led to consider, at a conceptual level, the importance of the notion of centredness in general and the reasons for there being different types of centeredness.
Method: We searched the literature for papers on client-, family-, patient-, person- and relationship- centred care. We identified reviews or papers that defined or discussed the notions at a conceptual level. The reviews and papers were analyzed as text transcripts.
Results: We identified 10 themes that were common to all the types of centredness. At a conceptual level we could not identify thematic differences between the types of centredness. These findings were subjected to a philosophical critique using ideas derived from Wittgenstein.
Conclusion: Different types of centredness are required in different contexts. The differences are justified by their practical utility. The unifying themes of centredness, however, reflect a movement in favour of increasing the social, psychological, cultural and ethical sensitivity of our human encounters.