Patient-centredness in the consultation. 1: A method for measurement

Fam Pract. 1989 Dec;6(4):249-53. doi: 10.1093/fampra/6.4.249.


This paper presents a method for assessing the doctor-patient interaction in terms of its patient-centredness. Patient-centredness was defined in terms of doctor responses which enabled patients to express all of their reasons for coming, including symptoms, thoughts, feelings and expectations. The method was tested and found to be valid (correlations for criterion validity rs = 0.51 and 0.89), reliable (inter-rater correlation rs = 0.91, intra-rater correlation rs = 0.88), and sensitive, in that it was able to detect differences among doctors (P less than 0.001) and among doctor responses to different patient offers (P less than 0.001). The method was also found to be practical in that it was inexpensive and could be used for a variety of purposes such as by tutors to give feedback to their students, by examiners as part of the evaluation of candidates' consultation skills, and by students and clinicians alike, for self-assessment. The finding that the score for the first two minutes of the consultation correlated highly with the score for the entire consultation (rs = 0.806) greatly increases the time effectiveness of the method, suggesting that it would be practical for use on a large scale, including student assessment and future studies of the relationship between patient-centredness and patient outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Clinical Competence
  • Communication*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Holistic Health
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Self-Evaluation Programs