, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 349-357
Date: 18 Sep 2006

Care as a mutual endeavour: Experiences of a multiple sclerosis patient and her healthcare professionals

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Abstract

In Dutch healthcare policy patients are seen as informed, autonomous experts and active decision makers with control over their illness and care. Healthcare professionals are expected to operate as providers of information. The purpose of this article is to argue that the consumerist approach of the patient–professional relationship is not a productive way to envision the patient–professional relationship. We argue that an interpretive/deliberative model is a more productive way to envision this relationship, especially in the care for people with a chronic illness. This is illustrated with a case study. It concerns a study of the experiences of a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patient and healthcare professionals involved in her care. The presented stories show that the participants did not act in line with the roles and responsibilities embodied in the consumerism rhetoric in Dutch healthcare policy. Expectations of patients and healthcare professionals are better met when care is redefined as mutual endeavour in which the caring abilities of healthcare professionals and the vulnerability of chronically ill patients are taken into account.