FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE has long been guided by six core principles, one of which is “awareness of the evidence that supports a patient-centered rather than a disease-centered approach to treatment.”
A patient-centered approach refers to health care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and that ensures that patient values guide all clinical decisions. At the London clinic of Nutrition, patient-centered care is at the core of what we call the therapeutic partnership, the relationship that forms between a patient and clinician and which empowers the patient to take ownership of their own wellness. The power of the therapeutic partnership comes from the idea that patients who are active participants in the development of their therapeutic plan feel more in control of their own well-being and are more likely to make sustained lifestyle changes to improve their health. It is this approach that has helped 100s of patients regain control of their health.
While many studies have demonstrated that patient-centered care improves patient-clinician communication, patient perceptions, and patient behaviors, evidence of its impact on patient outcomes is harder to find. However, a recent observational study suggests that the patient-centered approach does indeed improve outcomes.
A study published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine examined audio recordings of nearly 800 patients during visits with their clinicians. The results showed that patients of clinicians who identified and addressed “contextual factors” in their patient’s lives and adjusted treatment plans accordingly had significantly better health outcomes than those of clinicians who did not.1
- Weiner SJ, et al. 2013. Patient-centered decision making and health care outcomes: an observational study. Annals of Internal Medicine 158(8):573-579.