english.prescrire.org > Positions > Basic principles > Health professionals and patients: the best alliance

Theme: Basic principles

What are the tenets that underpin our approach? A scientific spirit, respect for the evidence, tempered by scepticism. Humility, empathy and unwavering devotion to the patient’s interests. Most crucial perhaps is independence.

Health professionals and patients: the best alliance

The alliance of health professionals and health service users is the most promising approach to improve the quality of care and uphold patient choice.

An alliance between health professionals and patients is the only solid and lasting alliance for quality care. With whom else can health professionals share the benefits of their efforts to provide quality, pertinent care?

Not with pharmaceutical companies, whose priorities are profits and keeping shareholders happy. Rarely with France’s national health insurance system, which is mired in financial management problems and devoid of healthcare expertise. Only cautiously with healthcare authorities and agencies whose recommendations are too often distorted by conflicts of interest and insufficient expertise.

For health professionals, sharing decisions with patients does not mean relinquishing all decision-making powers, but that they should take patients’ requests for information and involvement in the decisions that concern them into consideration. Again, it is the health professionals’ role to explain and give reasons for the decisions they advocate, based on reliable sources. Sharing also takes place at the collective level: sharing information and practice evaluation, justifying the choices being suggested, listening to what patients want and accepting that there is room for discussion.

And patients should seek discussion, independence and transparency, in particular through their representatives. The experience of the French organisation CIANE (Collectif Interassociatif Autour de la Naissance) in the area of perinatal care shows that users of the healthcare system can push health professionals to have more regard for both scientific evidence and patients’ right to make their own decisions.

©Prescrire 2009

Source: "Alliance" Rev Prescrire 2009; 29 (307): 321.
"Le Ciane: des usagers poussent les soignants vers plus de qualité" Rev Prescrire 2009; 29 (307): 376-378.