Caring about symptoms in person-centred care

DOI: 10.4236/ojn.2013.38077   PDF   HTML   XML   5,237 Downloads   7,730 Views   Citations


In the present article, we emphasize the symptom experience perspective in person-centred care and discuss barriers to implementation of this approach. There are obstacles to overcome: the diversity of understandings of symptoms in clinical settings, the current biomedical discourse and the incompleteness of symptom research. Since the 19th century, the biomedical perspective has been powerful in conceptualizing symptoms in terms of pathology and diagnosis. Many diagnoses conjure up preconceived notions about the persons receiving them. This perspective may influence person-centred care negatively. Yet symptoms often mean something beyond the diagnosis. Recognizing this discrepancy, it is crucial that we consider a perspective that starts from each person’s symptom experience, thus complementing the biomedical perspective. Using the notion caring about symptoms, we advocate a person-centred approach that includes a symptom experience perspective. This requires health-care professionals to be skilled in listening to patient narratives and acquire knowledge about how symptom experiences can be individually expressed and interpreted. Listening to symptom experiences may give insights into the personal meaning of illness as well as information about bodily and social restrictions caused by symptom distress. In this way, caring about symptoms will improve the prerequisites for establishing person-centred care planning.

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Brink, E. and Skott, C. (2013) Caring about symptoms in person-centred care. Open Journal of Nursing, 3, 563-567. doi: 10.4236/ojn.2013.38077.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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