Involving Patients in Their Care
There has been growing interest internationally in how health services might more actively involve—and support the involvement of—patients in deciding about their treatments and in the delivery of their own care. Patient involvement can take diverse forms, and can be valued for a range of reasons. There has been a strong tendency for policies and service development initiatives to emphasize the need for health professionals to communicate to inform patients’ choice-making and to encourage patients to make particular practical contributions to their care. Recent studies of patients’ experiences, however, particularly in the context of breast cancer, have highlighted the additional significance of the relational aspects of involvement and the social factors (including those operating within healthcare settings) that influence patients’ potential to contribute. Further research and debate is needed to illuminate the ethical as well as the practical aspects of involving patients in their care.