'Knowing the patient': a review of research on an emerging concept

J Adv Nurs. 1996 Jun;23(6):1142-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.1996.12910.x.


Knowing the patient is an important concept emerging from recent studies of nursing practice. The concept is relevant to therapeutic decision-making. Also, knowing the patient actualizes a cherished value in nursing: the treatment of persons as unique individuals. Investigators described that knowing the patient comprises two components: the nurse's understanding of the patient and the selection of individualized interventions. In addition, the nurse's experience with caring for patients, chronological time and a sense of closeness between the patient and nurse, are three factors consistently related to knowing the patient. The concept has implications for practice, including that knowing the patient may result in positive patient outcomes. Also, expert nurse decision-making may be characterized by knowing the patient. Recommendations for further research in this area include the clarification and refinement of the concept, as well as the examination of relationships between knowing the patient and outcomes of care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Nursing Research
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nursing Assessment*
  • Treatment Outcome