Values-based practice and phenomenological psychopathology: implications of existential changes in depression

J Eval Clin Pract. 2015 Jun;21(3):508-13. doi: 10.1111/jep.12313. Epub 2015 Mar 31.


Values-based practice (VBP), developed as a partner theory to evidence-based medicine (EBM), takes into explicit consideration patients' and clinicians' values, preferences, concerns and expectations during the clinical encounter in order to make decisions about proper interventions. VBP takes seriously the importance of life narratives, as well as how such narratives fundamentally shape patients' and clinicians' values. It also helps to explain difficulties in the clinical encounter as conflicts of values. While we believe that VBP adds an important dimension to the clinician's reasoning and decision-making procedures, we argue that it ignores the degree to which values can shift and change, especially in the case of psychiatric disorders. VBP does this in three respects. First, it does not appropriately engage with the fact that a person's values can change dramatically in light of major life events. Second, it does not acknowledge certain changes in the way people value, or in their modes of valuing, that occur in cases of severe psychiatric disorder. And third, it does not acknowledge the fact that certain disorders can even alter the degree to which one is capable of valuing anything at all. We believe that ignoring such changes limits the degree to which VBP can be effectively applied to clinical treatment and care. We conclude by considering a number of possible remedies to this issue, including the use of proxies and written statements of value generated through interviews and discussions between patient and clinician.

Keywords: depression; evidence-based medicine; phenomenology; values; values-based practice.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychopathology / methods