Which social accountability competencies make a good physician? A qualitative investigation of the patient perspective on social accountability

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Objective: Social accountability is an emerging theme in health care education. In previous literature, the perspectives of patients regarding the competencies that they think are required for physicians to demonstrate in this domain are scarce. This study aims to get insight into the competencies in the domain of social accountability that, according to patients, should be demonstrated by physicians. Methods: Online semi-structured interviews with 18 patients in the Netherlands were conducted as part of an exploratory qualitative study. Snowballing and convenience sampling techniques were used to recruit participants. The grounded theory method was used to qualitatively analyze the interviews. Results and conclusion: Patients identified five competencies of a physician in the domain of social accountability: (1) Taking patient’s characteristics into account and tailoring care to the individual patient, (2) Taking the broader community into account, (3) Balancing between care for the individual patient versus concern for society, (4) Providing guidance to patients in the navigation within the health system, and (5) Taking climate impact into account. Patients stated that the importance of these competencies are dependent on the specialism. Practice implications: The formulated competencies can be used to better align medical education focussing on social accountability to the expectations of patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical teacher
Early online date2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024


  • Social accountability
  • competencies
  • patient perspective

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