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How do specialist trainee doctors acquire skills to practice patient-centred care? A qualitative exploration

Patel, Veena; Buchanan, Heather; Hui, Michelle; Patel, Prashanth; Gupta, Pankaj; Kinder, Alison; Thomas, Hywel

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Veena Patel

Michelle Hui

Prashanth Patel

Pankaj Gupta

Alison Kinder

Hywel Thomas


Objectives: The importance of patient centred care (PCC) has been increasingly recognised. However, there is limited work exploring what doctors actually understand by PCC, and how they perceive they acquire PCC skills in the workplace. The objectives of our study were to explore (1) what UK doctors, in specialist training, perceive to be the essential components of PCC, and (2) if/how they acquire these skills; (3) any facilitators/barriers for engaging in PCC; and (4) views on their PCC training.
Design: Qualitative study using in-depth individual semi-structured interviews with UK specialist trainees. Interview transcripts were thematically analysed.
Setting and Participants: Thirty-one specialist trainee doctors, with at least 4 years postgraduate experience, were interviewed. Participants worked in various medical specialities within the Medical Directorate of an acute hospital in the East Midlands of England (UK).
Results: Interview data were transcribed verbatim and categorised into three main themes. The first theme was ‘Understanding PCC’ where the doctors gave varied perspectives on what they understood by PCC. Although many were able to highlight key components of PCC there were also some accounts which demonstrated a lack of understanding. The second theme was ‘Learning PCC skills: A work in progress’. Learning to be patient-centred was perceived to be an on-going process. Within this, trainee doctors reported ‘on-the-job’ learning as the main means of acquiring PCC skills, but they also saw a place for formal training (e.g., educational sessions focussing on PCC, clinical scenarios/role play). ‘Delivering PCC: Beyond the physician’ referred to the many influences the doctors reported in learning and delivering PCC including patients, the organisation and colleagues. Observing consultants taking a patient-centred approach was cited as an important learning tool.
Conclusions: Our findings may assist clinical educators in understanding how trainee doctors perceive PCC, and the factors that influence their learning; thereby, helping them shape PCC skills training.


Patel, V., Buchanan, H., Hui, M., Patel, P., Gupta, P., Kinder, A., & Thomas, H. (2018). How do specialist trainee doctors acquire skills to practice patient-centred care? A qualitative exploration. BMJ Open, 8(10), 1-7.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 11, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 15, 2018
Publication Date Oct 15, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 21, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 21, 2018
Journal BMJ Open
Electronic ISSN 2044-6055
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 10
Article Number e022054
Pages 1-7
Keywords General Medicine, Patient Centred-care
Public URL
Publisher URL


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