Health Dialogues

To support older patients’ engagement in their healthcare trajectories, professionals have to “help people help themselves”. We are developing “Health Dialogues”, a new practice that recognizes the complexity of an individual’s life history as well as their specific everyday needs and priorities.




The central research questions are:

How do older people experience ‘patient involvement’ and ‘shared decision-making’ in the Danish healthcare sector, and how does integrating autonomy-compatible help via Health Dialogues affect (i.e., change, disrupt, improve) older people’s engagement?

With inspiration from philosopher David Ellerman’s theory of autonomy-compatible help (2006/2009), this project investigates how a framework of “helping people help themselves” enables health professionals to better support older patients’ intrinsic motivation, which is expressed in their narrative communication during a healthcare encounter.

  • Phase I: Ethnographic study of hospital-based healthcare encounters
  • Phase II: Shaping the Health Dialogues
  • Phase III: Training professionals; a pilot intervention

The focus is on examining forms of relational communication in a range of settings in the Danish hospital sector; e.g., healthcare consultations and feedback meetings held at clinics and hospitals.



















Clotworthy A. 2020. Empowering the elderly? How ‘help to self-help’ interventions shape ageing and eldercare in Denmark. Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript Verlag, 262 p. (Aging Studies).










Group leader

 Rudi GJ Westendorp
 Phone:  +45 35 33 13 70

 CV, Publications, etc.


Group members

Name Title Job responsibilities Phone E-mail
Amy Clotworthy Assistant Professor +4535337792 E-mail