Individual participation can change health care

Patient Participation is another form of individual participation. According to Guadegnoli and Ward, patient participation is understood as the process of involving a patient to the decision making of his or her doctor regarding his or her medical condition and the treatment that must be followed. For as rational as it sounds it is not at all the norm. The two researcher conclude in their paper that patient participation is justified by their right to life and thus doctors’ priority should be to inform the patient of the steps to be followed and allow the patient to contribute with his or her opinion.

Furthermore, research by Pinquart and Duberstein showed that older cancer patients are keen to obtain more information about their condition but they are less likely to request an active role in decision-making. Based on Guadegnoli and Ward it is debatable whether patients are in a position to judge for the status of their health as they lack fundamental knowledge, but regardless patients should have the right to be thoroughly informed about the risks or benefits involved in the process of their treatment and participate in the medical decision making if they wish to.

Pinquart and Duberstein argue that by allowing or encouraging patients to participate in their treatment and play a more active role, the image of medicine becomes less frightening and the relationship between the doctor and the patient is no longer paternalistic but becomes interactive. Follow up research by Cegala, Street and Clinch indicated that patient participation is not only beneficial for the patients as it also influences the behavior of physicians and makes them want to share more information than they would normally do with patients. Moreover, the shift to a “patient-centered style of communication” is primarily a result of the patients’ interest to participate and learn more about their medical condition and the therapy to be followed and not so much dependent on the doctor.

Mutually, in an effort for individuals to attain a citizen-centered style of communication by their government or an employee-centered communication by the company they work for, the first step is to demonstrate active interest. This brief mention to patient participation is to exhibit one more of various types of individual participation and highlight the similarities between them. To conclude on individual participation and in particular on patient participation, it must be stressed, that none of the articles encountered during the literature research on patient participation address the impact of patient participation on medicine instead of the physicians attitude. That might be an interesting research area.


Cegala,D.J., Street, R.L., Clinch, C.R. (2007) The impact of patient participation on physicians’ information provision during a primary care medical interview, School of Communication and Department of Family Medicine, Ohio State University

Pinquart, M., Duberstein, P.R., (2004) Information needs and decision-making processes in older cancer patients, Department of Developmental Psychology, Friedrich Schiller University, Germany, university of Rochester Medical Center, USA,

Guadagnoli, E., Ward, P. (1998) Patient participation in decision-making, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston

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