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J Aging Stud. 2013 Aug;27(3):276-87. doi: 10.1016/j.jaging.2013.05.003. Epub 2013 Jun 15.

The Personhood in Dementia Questionnaire (PDQ): establishing an association between beliefs about personhood and health providers' approaches to person-centred care.

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Department of Psychology, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, S7N 0W6, Canada.



Interest in person-centred dementia care has flourished in the last two decades. Despite growing interest in the development and implementation of person-centred approaches to dementia care, important empirical questions remain. For instance, although Kitwood (1997) emphasized that personhood, a status extended by others, is at the heart of person-centred care, to our knowledge, no one has demonstrated empirically that beliefs about patient status influence how care is provided. The purpose of this series of three studies was to operationalize Kitwood's definition of personhood in order to test this hypothesis.


To operationalize Kitwood's definition of personhood, we generated items to create the Personhood in Dementia Questionnaire (PDQ; Study 1). We then completed preliminary tests of the PDQ's convergent and discriminant validity (Study 2). Finally, we examined the PDQ's relationships with other constructs such as burnout and job satisfaction, and we used linear regression to test the hypothesis that health providers' beliefs about personhood influence intended approaches to dementia care (Study 3).


In Study 1, we generated a pool of 64 potential questionnaire items. In Study 2, a 20-item version of the PDQ demonstrated good internal consistency, resistance to socially desirable responding, and evidence of convergent and discriminant validity. In Study 3, PDQ scores accounted for a significant proportion of variance in health providers' intended approaches to dementia care, including pain management. PDQ scores were not related to job satisfaction or to most aspects of burnout.


These results provide the first direct empirical evidence of Kitwood's (1997) theory that beliefs about patient personhood have the potential to influence health providers' care decisions, including decisions about pain management.


Dementia; Elderly; Long-term care; Older adults; Pain; Person-centred care

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