Objective: Despite the growing acknowledgement of the value of engaging patients in their health care, the term “patient engagement” is at risk of becoming nothing more than a “hot buzz phrase,” as it lacks a shared definition and, consequently, shared guidelines for interventions. The aim of this study is to identify the main conceptualizations associated with the expression “patient engagement” within the current academic literature. In particular we highlight different disciplinary points of view and changes in its conceptualizations across the last 12 years.
Methods: Five electronic databases were searched from 2002 to 2013 with no language restrictions (included MEDLINE; PsychINFO; CINAHL;Web of Science; and SCOPUS). A qualitative software-based thematic analysis was performed on papers dealing with the concept of patient engagement retrieved by a systematic review of the literature.
Key Findings: Searches yielded 1020 articles, of which 259 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The conceptualization of patient engagement is still vague and has changed over time, thus offering a fragmented and partial vision of this phenomenon. The current literature focuses alternatively on different and singular aspects of the patient engagement phenomenon while missing the whole picture of the elements that may hinder or facilitate patient engagement.
Conclusions: These results underline the urgency for a deeper understanding of what patient engagement means in order to develop knowledge useful for innovation both in clinical practice and health policy agendas.”