Complex values are values that mean different things to different people: ‘acting with respect’, for example, means different things to people from different cultures, or of different ages, at different historical periods.
Conflicting values are values that are in conflict one with another either within a given individual or between different individuals: clinicians for example often find there is a conflict between their person-centred values of patient choice and their professional commitment to acting in their patients’ best interests
Frameworks of shared values
Frameworks of complex and conflicting values can be shared by those concerned in any given clinical situation. These frameworks have to be understood and then balanced according to the particular circumstances presented by that situation.
Thus a clinician, patient and carer deciding what to do in a given situation may all share the values of respect, choice and best interests: but what ‘best interests’ means may be understood very differently from the perspectives of the clinician and carer; and what the patient actually wants may be quite different from what either the clinician or carer believes is in his or her best interests.
The premise of values-based practice
The ‘democratic’ premise of mutual respect for differences of values.