Giving patients a starring role in their own care: a bibliometric analysis of the on-going literature debate

Julia Paola Menichetti Delor, Chiara Libreri, Edoardo Lozza, Guendalina Graffigna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)


Background Patient-centred care has been advocated as a key component of high-quality patient care, yet its meanings and related actions have been difficult to ascertain. Objective To map the use of different terms related to the process of giving patients a starring role in their own care and clarify the possible boundaries between terms that are often mixed. Methods A literature search was conducted using different electronic databases. All records containing the search terms ‘patient engagement’, ‘patient activation’, ‘patient empowerment’, ‘patient involvement’, ‘patient adherence’, ‘patient compliance’ and ‘patient participation’ were collected. Identified literature was then analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). The number of yearly publications, most productive countries, cross-concepts articles and various scientific fields dealing with the multidisciplinary concepts were identified. Results Overall, 58 987 papers were analysed. Correspondence analysis revealed three temporal trends. The first period (2002–2004) focused on compliance and adherence, the second period (2006–2009) focused on the relationship between participation and involvement, and the third one (2010–2013) emphasized empowerment. Patient activation and patient engagement followed the temporal development trend connected to the ‘immediate future’. Discussion and conclusions The bibliometric trend suggests that the role of patient in the health-care system is changing. In the last years, the patient was viewed as a passive receptor of medical prescription. To date, the need to consider patients as active partners of health-care planning and delivery is growing. In particular, the term patient engagement appears promising, not only for its increasing growth of interest in the scholarly debate, but also because it offers a broader and better systemic conceptualization of the patients’ role in the fruition of health care. To build a shared vocabulary of terms and concepts related to the active role of patients in the health-care process may be envisaged as the first operative step towards a concrete innovation of health-care organizations and systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-526
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Expectations
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • bibliometric analysis
  • health care
  • patient activation
  • patient adherence
  • patient compliance
  • patient engagement
  • patient involvement
  • patient-centred


Dive into the research topics of 'Giving patients a starring role in their own care: a bibliometric analysis of the on-going literature debate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this