GRIP, Research Abroad Person-Centeredness

July 28, 2022
By Angela Ding, Nursing '23

Nursing Research in Dublin - Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

This summer, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Amanda Phelan on her project about person-centeredness. The study was part of a larger project called ERASMUS+, which aimed to develop an international curriculum framework for educating future person-centered healthcare practitioners. Before I arrived at Trinity, Amanda and her colleagues implemented a week-long summer school on person-centeredness curricula. 30 participants took part in the school. Afterward, they took an 11-question survey on the effectiveness of the school—which I later performed a thematic analysis on. So, what is person-centered care?

Angela's computer screen.
Angela working at a Dublin cafe.

Globally, there has been a shift from the biomedicalization of healthcare to an emphasis on person-centeredness. Contrary to the paternalistic approach of viewing patients as objects of disease, person-centered care puts the service user at the forefront of their treatment. It prioritizes the service user during decision-making by embracing all their cultural and personal preferences, beliefs, and values as aspects that make their care unique (Phelan et al., 2020). In order to instill a mindset of person-centeredness institutionally and within all healthcare professionals, researchers urge for an effective healthcare curriculum that clarifies what specifically person-centered care demands from the healthcare professionals and how to accomplish that in a complex clinical environment. Nursing curricula that instills person-centeredness in its learners should be transformative, co-constructed, relational, and pragmatic in order for learners to be advocators of person-centeredness within healthcare. It calls for a system-wide approach where there is clarity and cohesion of person-centered principles, brave advocators of changing the current practice, person-centered theory thoroughly embedded in nursing curriculums, and creative, safe spaces for critical self-reflection. 

For the first few weeks, I performed a literature review on all the available studies on person-centeredness and person-centered curriculum. There was very limited literature out there, expectedly. My literature review covered the basics of a curriculum, including articulating the factors that make up any curriculum and then specifying what a nursing curriculum is. Then, I analyzed studies related to person-centered healthcare: its evolution, the different methods of implementing it within a curriculum, barriers to implementing it, and its role in healthcare policy development.

Then, once the anonymous survey results became available, we analyzed the data. Some major findings included: Before the program, 81.4% of participants were at least somewhat familiar with person-centeredness while only 40.1% were familiar with person-centered curricula.

After the program, however, surveys show that 83.3% of participants were at least moderately familiar with person-centered curriculum. 86.7% of participants also believed that the programme content was either at an above average or excellent level. After the program, 96.7% of participants felt at least somewhat confident to translate their new knowledge into their own practice/educational area.

With the qualitative questions, I learned how to perform thematic analysis of the data to come up with themes that encompassed participants’ free response answers. Overall, as a nursing student, working on this project was an incredibly relevant and helpful experience. I realized how difficult it is to consistently emphasize person-centeredness and standardize a person-centered curriculum. I’m eager to see the final published paper in a few months!

Student Story Sample

The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce.