BACKGROUND : Person-centred practice in medicine may provide solutions to several pressing
problems in health care, including the cost of services, poor outcomes in chronic care and the
rise in litigation. It is also an ethical imperative in itself. However, patient- or person-centred
care is not well researched partly because of a lack of conceptual and definitional clarity.
AIM : The aim of this review was to analyse essential elements, ethical principles, logic and the
practical application of person-centred practice described in clinician- and researcher-defined
conceptual frameworks, terms and practices.
METHODS : A search of review articles on patient- and person-centred care or medicine was
conducted using Medline and Google Scholar. Secondary searches were conducted using
references and citations from selected articles.
RESULTS : Five conceptual frameworks were identified in terms of their practical application of
the ethical principles of beneficence, autonomy and justice. They converge around a few
central ideas such as having a holistic perspective of patients and their illness experience, a
therapeutic alliance between the patient and clinician as well as respectful, enabling
collaboration with the patient.
CONCLUSIONS : Terminological differences appear to owe more to disciplinary origins than to
substantive meaning. Beneficence needs to be balanced by and practised through respect for
patient autonomy. Core ideas in existing conceptual frameworks of patient or person centredness
can guide teaching and research. Considering the value and ethical imperative of person-centred
practice, training institutions should train health care students and practitioners in its precepts.