An ethnographic investigation of healthcare providers' approaches to facilitating person-centredness in group-based diabetes education

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To investigate approaches among healthcare providers (HCPs) that support or hinder person-centredness in group-based diabetes education programmes targeting persons with type 2 diabetes.


Ethnographic fieldwork in a municipal and a hospital setting in Denmark. The two programmes included 21 participants and 10 HCPs and were observed over 5 weeks. Additionally, 10 in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients (n = 7) and HCPs (n = 3). Data were analysed using systematic text condensation.


Hindering approaches included a teacher-centred focus on delivering disease-specific information. Communication was dialog based, but HCPs primarily asked closed-ended questions with one correct answer. Additional hindering approaches included ignoring participants with suboptimal health behaviours and a tendency to moralize that resulted in feelings of guilt among participants. Supporting approaches included letting participants set the agenda using broad, open-ended questions.


Healthcare providers are often socialized into a biomedical approach and trained to be experts. However, person-centredness involves redefined roles and responsibilities. Applying person-centredness in practice requires continuous training and supervision, but HCPs often have minimum support for developing person-centred communication skills. Techniques based on motivational communication, psychosocial methods and facilitating group processes are effective person-centred approaches in a group context.


Teacher-centredness undermined person-centredness because HCPs primarily delivered disease-specific recommendations, leading to biomedical information overload for participants.

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