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UCSF SON team publishes study on interactional dynamics of patient-centered care

Monday January 13, 2014
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The trend toward patient-centered care is putting some patients at a disadvantage because they are ill-equipped to navigate the healthcare system, according to a study.

The study by a UCSF School of Nursing team, which included Associate Professor Janet Shim, PhD, Leslie Dubbin, RN, MS, PhD(c) and Jamie Chang, RN, MA, PhD(c), was titled “Cultural health capital and the interactional dynamics of patient-centered care” and published in the June issue of Social Science and Medicine.

Shim coined the term “cultural health capital” to refer to the skills, resources, attitudes and styles patients and providers bring to medical care. The team found the accomplishments of patient-centered care are highly dependent on that cultural health capital. The patient who knows more about healthcare, its lingo and institutions is better equipped to ask questions leading to better care.

“We wanted to temper some of the enthusiasm for patient-centered care,” Shim said in an interview on the UCSF website. “There are some deeply held expectations, beliefs and convictions about what it means to be a patient and what it means to be a provider that can get in the way of providing patient-centered care. It’s really very complicated.”

Drawing on personal experience

She pointed to her own experience when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Her familiarity and comfort with lingo, practices and institutions enabled her to be more assertive than people without such knowledge.

“This is cultural health capital at work; it’s the way that you see or frame the problem that you need to solve,” Shim said in the interview. “Our expectations about what we ought to do and how we ought to act: they’re all systematically and unevenly distributed.”

Learn more

For more information, visit UCSFAlumni.org and search for Potential Pitfalls of the Trend Toward Patient-Centered Care.


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