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Is there any value in values-based practice?

26 June, 2019

In the first of a series of articles by Dr Ruth Strudwick, associate professor at the University of Suffolk, Ruth explains what VBP means for diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers and how it puts the patient at the very centre of all we do.

What is values-based practice?

It is taking account of a patient’s values in the decision-making process about their healthcare. Whether that is during initial screening or diagnosis, or further along the pathway during their treatment. It does not replace solid evidence-based radiography but is designed to complement it to deliver a more holistic approach.

By patient values, we mean the unique preferences, concerns and expectations that each patient brings to a practice encounter, ie what matters to them or is important to them, and integrating those into clinical decisions to serve the patient.

The HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Radiographers document (available at hcpc-uk.org) states that healthcare practitioners must understand the need to respect and uphold the rights, dignity, values and autonomy of service users, including their role in the diagnostic and therapeutic process, and in maintaining health and wellbeing.

Practitioners should also understand the requirement to adapt practice to meet the needs of different groups and individuals, and understand the need to provide service users or people acting on their behalf with the information necessary to enable them to make informed decisions.

Values-based practice actively reinforces this by encouraging open and frank discussions with service users, patients and carers about how they see their pathway, the impact they think it will have on them and their families, and the outcome they are hoping for.

Decisions about their diagnosis and treatment pathway can then be made taking account of all the evidence from the medical, healthcare and patient perspective.

If radiographers fully understand VBP and embed it into their day to day practice, they can begin to have the meaningful conversations with patients which provide assurance that the patient is at the centre of everything we do.

The challenge is that sustainable implementation of values-based practice will depend on a whole-system and team approach, and not just a token agreement or tick box exercise; it means that patients are truly at the centre of service delivery.

In the next article, I will cite some VBP case studies, highlighting values that were important to those patients and carers at different points in their care pathway, and how these altered the direction of the healthcare pathway for them, or prompted practitioners to make changes in their own practice.

Further reading
A VBP training manual, Values-Based Practice in Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiography: A Training Template, was produced recently by a team made up of the committee members of the Association of Radiography Educators and other interested radiography educators who adapted materials from a VBP handbook, originally developed for medicine. It is specifically intended for diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers, introducing the concept of VBP along with examples of individual values through scenarios and case studies. It can be downloaded from the guidance and document library at sor.org

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