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The Balancing Person: an innovative approach to person-centred education in chronic illness

Ulla Moller Hansen, Gitte Engelund, Sofie a Rogvi, Ingrid Willaing


Rationale, aims and objective: Most patient education is based on a professional understanding of patients’ needs for learning, rather than a patient perspective. This generates a risk of neglecting issues that are important to patients, but unrecognised by educators. The aim of this study was to develop a health educational model for group-based patient education in chronic illness based on patient-perceived challenges.

Methods: Design Thinking was used as a method of inquiry. Four interactive workshops with 25 Danish patients with Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease provided data on patient-perceived challenges. Workshops with 28 educators informed the development of the model. A constant comparative method was used for analyses.

Results: Patients with chronic illness experience a constant need to balance their lives, which imposes new challenges in their everyday life. We identified 4 main challenges: Bodily Infirmities, Lowered Expectations, Challenging Relations and Changeable Moods. In response to these challenges, researchers and educators developed The Balancing Person, a health educational model with 4 interconnected meta-needs for the education process: Wholeness, Clarity, Timeliness and Connectedness.


Chronic illness, Design Thinking, health education model, participation, patient education, person-centred care

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