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Advocating for patients

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Nurse with patient The principles of advocacy are as old as nursing itself, but the concept itself remains ill-defined

Patients are vulnerable in clinical settings. With their health impaired or of concern, they place their trust in healthcare professionals to meet their best interests. Within a complex healthcare system where health-related information may be hard to obtain, knowledge deficits and lack of individual capacity can further erode the patient’s abilities to make informed decisions.1 It has also been argued that there exists a fundamental power imbalance between a patient and healthcare practitioner, which may threaten patient autonomy. Often, patients and healthcare providers can have varying perspectives on what constitutes the ‘best’ outcome. Yet, care pathways are predominantly designed based on the priorities proposed by healthcare professionals.2

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