The Values-Based Theory Network (VBP Theory Network) strives to promote research excellence and interdisciplinary collaboration in the fields of analytic and continental philosophy of medicine and mental health research. It was launched at an inaugural Advanced Studies Seminar at St Catherine’s College in October 2016 in collaboration with the Network Lead’s established Wellcome Trust funded Particularism in Bioethics, Professional Ethics and Medicine Network
. The network includes academics, health care professionals, policy makers, and experts by experience.
Recovery and shared decision-making models are currently the gold standard for putting people at the centre of decisions about their own treatment and care. The "Values-Based Health Practices" (VBP) methodology, developed by The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health and the Philosophy and Ethics in Mental Health Program from the Department of Philosophy of Warwick University Medicine College, has been described as an approach to decision-making in social health care that incorporates the different (and potentially conflicting) values of various stakeholders in favouring the co-responsibility of the people directly involved in the care process: patients, caregivers, clinical professionals and managers. It is not, therefore, a practice that presupposes the judgment of the behaviour of the other, but of the establishment of care relations permeated by respect between the parties. The decision making regarding the procedures and care process occurs in a democratic and agreed manner. Values differences are potentially cause for conflicts, so for VBP there is a need for the development of some practical skills of theoretical interest that can minimize potential friction: Perception, reasoning, knowledge, and communication. VBP is not guided only by the development of such individual practical skills, but also by the challenges of care in multidisciplinary services.
The aims and scope of the VBP Theory Network is informed by aspects of the historically influential theoretical underpinnings of values-based practice and analytic humanistic in understanding the role of the psychiatrist in the helping professions (WPA Position Statement
). It also opens up a conceptual space for non-pathological ways of understanding the epistemic and phenomenological structures in understanding the lived experience of the individual patient – conceptual tools crucial in the education of the psychiatrist’s medical expertise in identifying and managing complexity and co-morbidity in mental illness, such as that between personality disorder and psychopathology, substance abuse and mental illness and the impacts and interrelationship of psychical health and mental illness. Such reorientation of focus invites important re-examination of personal autonomy and relational moral agency, and new research on the implications of value pluralism for debates about objectivity and value in science more generally.