April 2016
Values Based Practice

Values-based Practice: Facts, Fictions, and How You Can Get Involved 

With increasing globalization, values, always important in healthcare, are becoming ever more challenging. In this short article we outline a new resource for working with values in healthcare called values-based practice. 

Values-based practice is about co-production in which policy makers and researchers, clinicians, patients and carers work together on an equal basis. In our final section we describe some of the ways in which WPA is supporting developments in the field internationally and how you can get involved. 

Values-based practice: linking evidence with people 

The growing challenge of values in healthcare has been met with an increasingly sophisticated range of resources. Ethics is the most familiar. But health economics and computer-based decision aids are further important contributions to the growing ‘values toolkit’ of healthcare. Values-based practice adds to the toolkit, a process that supports balanced decision making between clinicians and patients where complex and conflicting values are in play. 



Values-based practice is a full partner to evidence-based practice

Values-based practice is only important when the evidence-base is absent or weak

 Values and with them values-based practice are often thought to be needed only where the required evidence-base for decision-making is weak or absent. 

To be clear, the evidence-base for treatment is essential. But because people are different, the values-base is essential too. The challenge for medicine is thus to connect up the evidence-base for treatment with the unique values – the unique preferences, concerns and expectations – of individual patients. This is why we need values-based practice working alongside and as a full partner to evidence-based practice. 



Values-based practice is just as important in ‘high tech’ as in ‘low tech’ medicine

Values-based practice is only needed in low-tech areas of medicine like psychiatry

 You might have expected a mental health example here (these follow below). And it is true that values-based practice developed first in psychiatry. 



Values-based practice is cost-effective

Values-based practice is too time consuming for everyday practice

 Clinicians are busy people. ‘It would be wonderful’ they often say ‘to be able to go into everyone’s values but we simply don’t have the time!’ Yet the cost-effectiveness of listening to the values as well as the evidence is clear.



Values-based practice is concerned with all stakeholders’ values

Values-based practice is concerned only with patients’ values

Patients’ values are widely recognized to be important in health care. Patients’ values are central also to values-based decision making. But focusing exclusively on patients’ values is unrealistic (many other values being in play) and results in decision making that is anything but balanced.



Values-based practice is important in resource-poor settings

Values-based practice is a ‘luxury goods’ for Western medicine

The Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice: how you can get involved

Set up by Bill Fulford and Ashok Handa at St Catherine’s College in Oxford, The Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care aims to support the development of the field through shared learning with partners in the UK and internationally.

Supported by a website and with funding for exploratory Advanced Studies Seminars, projects already underway in mental health include a Commission for Values-based CAMHS set up by Dame Sue Bailey in her time as President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Among education-focused projects, WPA’s sections for Education and for Philosophy and Humanities are collaborating with their counterparts in the Royal College in programs led by Subodh Dave and Afzal Javed.

See valuesbasedpractice.org for more on values-based practice including a Reading Guide and a whole section on ‘How Can I get Involved?’

Sharing our stories

If you have stories illustrating how values come into your own experience of mental healthcare (whether as a clinician, patient, family member or in any other capacity) that you would be willing to share with others on an anonymous basis, we would be very glad to hear from you – please go to valuesbasedpractice.org and use the ‘Contact Us’ facility.

Good experiences are just as important as bad - sharing experiences of good care is a vitally important way of building best practice in mental health care.


Bill (KWM) Fulford, Co-Chair Philosophy and Humanities Section, WPA, Fellow and Director, Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice, St Catherine’s College, Oxford
Subodh Dave, Education Section, WPA; Sub-Dean for Education and Lead, Curriculum Review Group on Recovery, Royal College of Psychiatrists
Josenir Dettoni, psychologist and philosopher, Professor of Philosophy, Federal University of Rondônia, Brazil
Afzal Javad, Secretary for Sections, WPA
Waldo Roeg, Peer Support Specialist and Peer Trainer, Recovery & Wellbeing College, Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust, UK
Adriano Rodriguez, Secretary, Philosophy and Humanities Section, WPA
Giovanni Stanghellini, Chair, Philosophy and Humanities Section, WPA
Allan Tasman, Chair, Education Section, WPA 

Supported by Unrestricted Educational Grant by SUN Pharma SUN LOGO

>> Please click here the pdf version of this document




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