Person-centred healthcare versus Patient-centred healthcare

Patient-centred, person-centred, and whole person-centred

It is a mistake to think that these terms are more or less equivalent. In this section see Professor Stephen Buetow’s interesting analysis of what it means to be truly person-centred.


Person-centred health care is increasingly endorsed as a key element of high‑quality care, yet, in practice, it often means patient-centred health care. In his recent book, “Person-Centred Health Care: Balancing the Welfare of Clinicians and Patients”, Stephen Buetow clarifies differences between these two care models. The attached powerpoint presentation, presented in November 2016 at the Mind-Body Community Day in Auckland, summarize the key differences. See Powerpoint bue-pcc

Patient-centred health care assumes the primacy of patient welfare. However, Stephen suggests that the implication that clinician welfare is secondary can harm clinicians, patients and health system performance. Therefore, he advocates for person-centred health care as an ethic of virtue. This model puts persons first, as moral equals whose moral interests intertwine. Simply put, the moral interests of clinicians deserve as much consideration as those of patients because clinicians are persons too. Their self-care and care from patients can strengthen both parties. This perspective reconstructs the purpose or goals of health care as flourishing by all stakeholders, which goes beyond patient health and wellness.

Stephen is keen to work inter-professionally with colleagues to support such flourishing by clinicians, patients and others as whole persons. You can find out more about Stephen at and he welcomes you contacting him at