Patient-centred orientation of students from different healthcare disciplines, their understanding of the concept and factors influencing their development as patient-centred professionals: a mixed methods study

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  • Birmingham City University


Background: A patient-centred approach to care is increasingly the mandate for healthcare delivery. There is a need to explore how health professional students develop patient-centred attributes. This study aims to understand the extent of patient-centred orientations of health professional students, their perceptions and factors influencing their adoption of the approach.

Methods: The study used a cross-sectional, parallel mixed methods design combining a survey using the PatientPractitioner Orientation Scale (PPOS) followed by focus groups with medical, nursing, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy students. Data included students’ age, gender, programme, and placements experienced. Pearson’s chi squared and the non-parametric equivalent Kruskal-Wallis H test were done to test for differences in demographics for appropriate variables. One-way ANOVA or Welch test was done to explore differences in PPOS scores. Regression analysis was done to test the influence of the demographic variables on PPOS scores. Data from focus groups were coded, categorised and organised under themes appropriate to the research aims.

Results: Of the 211 complete responses, significant differences were observed between medical and physiotherapy students in total PPOS scores, (MD -8.11 [95% CI -12.02 - 4.20] p=0.000), Caring component (MD -4.44 [95% CI 6.69, −2.19] p=0.000) and Sharing component (MD -3.67 [95% CI -6.12 -1.22] p=0.001). The programme in which students were enrolled i.e. Medicine and SALT were the only indicators of higher PPOS total scores (F=4.6 Df 10,69; p=7.396e-06) and caring scores (F=2.164 Df 10, 69 p=0.022). Focus groups revealed that students perceived patient-centredness as holistic yet individualised care through establishing a partnership with patient. They identified that their student status, placement pressures, placement characteristics especially mentoring influenced their development of patient-centred attributes.

Conclusion: This study highlights the fact that the pressures of training in the National Health Service affects the development of students’ patient-centred orientation. There is a need for further work to explore aspects related to mentor training, for the development of patient-centred attributes, in a curricular framework structured on students’ needs from this study.


Original languageEnglish
Article number347
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2019


  • Clinical placement, Patient-centred care, Health professional education, Mixed methods