Creating space to talk about patients' personal goals: experiences from primary care stakeholders

Primary Care Academy, Dagje Boeykens, Reini Haverals, Muhammed Mustafa Sirimsi, Lotte Timmermans, Dominique Van de Velde, Patricia De Vriendt, Pauline Boeckxstaens, Dirk Devroey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: To address the many challenges health systems and communities face, primary care is constantly searching for new strategies to improve quality of care. One of the strategies is to focus on patients' personal goals to direct the care process. To adopt an explicit focus on patients' personal goals, actions at different levels are required. As a first step in this process, this study aims to explore the experiences of primary care stakeholders (i.e., scholars, primary care providers, and policy makers) and develop a comprehensive understanding on the idea 'putting patients' goals first'. This will help to formulate suggestions about what these actions should include.

METHOD: In this study, 41 primary care stakeholders participating in six focus groups between January 2020 and September 2020, were recruited via maximal variation purposive sampling. Data collection was done through an open-ended semi-structured interview guide. Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed following a phenomenological-hermeneutical philosophy of Lindseth and Norberg.

RESULTS: All participants expressed a strong fundamental belief for putting patients' personal goals first. The primary care providers shared that they created space for patients' personal goals by letting them talk about their values and stories. They reported to integrate their medical expertise with patients' personal goals in order to develop a balanced relationship. In this context, they also talked about the importance of taking into account the perspectives of patients' significant others. Primary care providers also talked about how they used patients' personal goals as a guide in interprofessional collaboration. Scholars denoted that (future) care providers need more training to acquire competencies to discuss patients' personal goals. The providers and policy makers talked about organizational limitations in terms of time restrictions and the lack of registration systems to support a workflow oriented towards patients' personal goals.

CONCLUSIONS: This study can be used to support the coherence of the development of different actions and strategies to get primary care stakeholders fully on board to support the adoption of patients' personal goals in care delivery at different levels. However, models of practice and policy plans are needed to work towards a person-centered integrated system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Number of pages13
JournalBMC primary care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2023


  • Chronic care
  • Chronic conditions
  • Multimorbidity
  • Patient preferences
  • Patients’ goals
  • Primary care
  • Primary care stakeholders
  • Qualitative research


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