Family-centred care: A conversation about its history, ethics and a new model

Linda Shields

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only


Family-centred care has been considered the ideal model of care for hospitalised children since its emergence in the 1980s. It has become ubiquitous across paediatric health care, with hospitals everywhere espousing it in guidelines, charters, policy documents, posters, leaflets, websites, etc. In adult care, family-centred care is emerging as a possible model to ensure the family is engaged in a patient’s admission.

However, there is no rigorous evidence of its effectiveness, while a growing body of qualitative research demonstrates grave concerns with the implementation of family-centred care across the world (Shields 2015).

Because of this, we have to ask if it is ethical to continue to promote family-centred care as the optimum model of care for children and families. In addition, if it is not working in paediatrics, can we be sure it is applicable across the life span?

This paper describes the history of family-centred care, the problems with its implementation and the ethical questions that are raised by its continued application in health services.

An alternative model – child centred care – is emerging (Carter et al. 2014). It is vital that this new and promising model does not fall into the same trap of ubiquity without proper testing that has benighted family-centred care, and so an international group is developing to test and measure the effects of this novel approach. The group and its emerging interests will be discussed.

Shields L. (2015). What is family-centred care? European Journal of Person Centered Healthcare, 3(2):139-144. Doi: 10.5750/ejpch.v3i2.993
Carter B, Bray L, Dickinson A, et al. (2014) Child-centred nursing: promoting critical thinking. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event3rd Australian Nursing and Midwifery Conference - Newcastle Exhibition and Convention Centre, Newcastle, Australia
Duration: 14 Sep 201715 Sep 2017 (Conference website)


Conference3rd Australian Nursing and Midwifery Conference
Abbreviated titleCollective conversations: Education, quality and research in nursing and midwifery practice
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Family-centred care: A conversation about its history, ethics and a new model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this