Qualitative analysis of US Department of veterans affairs mental health clinician perspectives on patient-centered care

Steven K. Dobscha, Risa Cromer, Aysha Crain, Lauren M. Denneson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: Enhanced patient involvement in care has the potential to improve patient experiences and health outcomes. As such, large national and global healthcare systems and organizations, including the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), have made patient-centered care a primary goal. Little is known about mental health clinician perspectives on, and experiences with, providing patient-centered care. Our main objective was to better understand VA mental health clinicians' perceptions of patient-centered care, and ascertain possible facilitators and barriers to patient-centered practices in mental health settings. Design: Qualitative study of six focus groups conducted in late 2013. Setting and participants: Thirty-five mental health clinicians and staff from a large VA Medical Center. Outcomes: Transcripts were analyzed using an inductive and deductive thematic analysis approach. Results: Participants described patient-centered care ideally as a process of shared discovery, and expressed general enthusiasm for patient-centered care. Participants described several ongoing patient-centered care practices but conveyed concerns about the practicalities of its full implementation. Participants expressed a strong desire to change the current biomedical culture and policies of the institution that may hinder clinicians' flexibility and clinician-clinician collaboration when serving patients. In particular, clinicians worried about being held responsible for addressing all of the needs or goals that a patient may identify. Conclusions: If patient-centered care is to be practiced fully in mental health settings, healthcare institutions need to develop multimodal strategies to enhance clinician-clinician and clinician-patient collaborations to promote and support a focus on discovery and shared accountability for outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbermzw028
Pages (from-to)355-362
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Clinician-patient relationship
  • Mental health
  • Patient-centered care
  • Veteran

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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