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Person-centred clinical reasoning and evidence-based healthcare

Roger Kerry, Matthew Low, Peter O'Sullivan


Purpose: Clinical practice, and in particular decision-making, are dependent on data and knowledge which are relevant to the context at hand. Numerous frameworks have existed which aim to facilitate best clinical decision-making for healthcare professionals and their patients, for example clinical reasoning and the evidence-based healthcare models. The purpose of this paper is to provide some reconciliation between apparently conflicting models of healthcare practice with regards to best practice.

Methods: We provide a theoretical narrative account of clinical practice with regards to clinical reasoning and best decision-making. We problematise the practice frameworks of clinical reasoning and evidence base healthcare by suggesting they are conflicting and contradictory to each other. We frame the arguments available with philosophical views of causation, making the assumption that causation lies central to all aspects of knowledge. We use the narrative to expose causal theories behind different practice models and illustrate our account with a case study.

Results: Clinical reasoning and evidence-based healthcare are characterised by different causal theories which do not readily align with each other. By reconceptualising causation as a dispositional phenomenon, reconciliation between individualised person-centred care and the population data which are the core interest of evidence-based healthcare, can be found, thus preserving the most valuable aspects of each practice framework.

Conclusion: Reconceptualising causation in dispositionalist terms facilitates a more person-centred, multi-dimensional clinical reasoning process. This in-turn allows for the integration of data from prioritised methods of evidence-based healthcare into complex and context-sensitive individualised clinical situations.


Causation, clinical reasoning, decision-making, dispositionalism, evidence-based healthcare, person-centered healthcare

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