Minding the gap between the policy and practice of patient-centeredness: cocreating a model for tensional dialogue in the ‘Active Patient Support’ program

Louise Jane Phillips*, Michael Scheffmann-Petersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Several studies identify obstacles to patient-centered care that can be eradicated by bridging the gap between policy goals and practice. In this article, “patient-centeredness” is theorised as an unstable entity riddled with intrinsic, ineradicable tensions. The purpose of the article is to propose a reflexive approach to the tensions as the most appropriate strategy for narrowing the gap between policy and practice. The reflexive approach is illustrated in an account of an action research project on a Danish, patient-centered initiative, “Active Patient Support”. The account focuses on the development of a dialogic communication model through collaborative, reflexive analyses of the tensions in the enactment of “patient-centeredness” in dialogue between health care practitioners and citizens – in particular, the tension between empowerment and self-discipline. Finally, the conceptual expansion of one of the dimensions of patient-centeredness, “health practitioner-as-person”, is discussed as a platform for reflexivity, and the limitations of reflexivity are addressed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1419-1430
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bakhtinian dialogic communication theory
  • Denmark
  • action research
  • counseling conversations
  • patient-centeredness
  • power / knowledge
  • reflexivity
  • tensions
  • voices

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