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'That's someone's grandma': Teaching person-centred care in a frailty context

Lookup NU author(s): Inga Andrew, Emeritus Professor Richard Thomson, Dr James Fisher



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 The Authors. The Clinical Teacher published by Association for the Study of Medical Education and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Background: The ability to provide person-centred care (PCC) is an essential skill for doctors and requires therapeutic empathy. We sought to evaluate a novel teaching approach to understand how medical students' personal reflections on an older person impact their views about PCC and frailty. Approach: We designed a teaching session where students prepared an image and story about an older person they knew. Given the innovative nature of this, we set it in the context of a Plan Do Study Act cycle to ensure evaluation and continuous improvement at each stage. Students' contributions were discussed in a supportive environment, weaving together stories about individuals with the impacts of ageing they experienced. We evaluated the teaching with a pre- and post-session ‘frailty’ word cloud and an online focus group. Evaluation: Word cloud analysis showed a shift in the words students used when considering ‘frailty’, from words associated with illness and vulnerability to those associated with character and experience. Focus group themes supported these findings. Students expressed a change in their perception of frailty to consider ‘the person behind the patient’, which, unexpectedly, led to them also seeing ‘the person behind the medical student’. The session stimulated student reflection on challenges that may impact on delivery of truly person-centred care. Implications: This flexible teaching technique was an effective stimulus for medical students to consider the person behind the patient. Future work could consider how to promote retention of empathy as medical students make the transition to working as a doctor.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robinson L, Andrew I, Kenny L, Garrad S, Thomson R, Fisher J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Teacher

Year: 2024

Volume: 21

Issue: 1

Print publication date: 01/02/2024

Online publication date: 12/10/2023

Acceptance date: 22/07/2023

Date deposited: 24/10/2023

ISSN (print): 1743-4971

ISSN (electronic): 1743-498X

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/tct.13627


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