For a long time now, we as patients with chronic conditions, have been crying out for doctors to listen to us. We want to tell them to get their heads out of their books and to see us as a person before our medical condition. We want them to treat us with respect, dignity and as equals.
But do we realise that this is finally happening? Although it has been slow to pick up, I’m seeing more diabetes conferences attempting to include sessions that are patient involved or patient led. There are even diabetes conferences that are led by people with diabetes for their peers! For me, both as a person with diabetes and a health professional, this is exhilarating! As the voices of patients becomes louder, we are starting to see a change in healthcare that we eagerly welcome.
Now, The British Medical Journal (BMJ) have launched a monthly series called What Your Patient Is Thinking as part of their patient partnership strategy. In this patient led and patient authored series, patients are given a voice on a prestigious journal platform frequently visited by healthcare professionals for the latest research updates. Patients are invited to offer practical tips for meeting their needs through specific medical conditions and even challenge traditional medical thoughts. To encourage healthcare professionals to be involved in this series, BMJ also offer continuing professional development and continuing medical education points if they formally reflect on each piece.
A prime example is the first piece in this series, which addresses the obesity paradox or the stigma associated with being healthily overweight or obese and its impact on mental health. There are some individuals who are physically active (probably more so than their doctor!) and enjoy a healthy and balanced diet, but still remain overweight or obese. Yet, each medical appointment, regardless of the primary concern, doctors will address their weight, despite having normal risk markers such as lipid profiles and blood pressure.
I’m very excited to read upcoming pieces in this series, not only to gain further insight to what other patients go through, but also to learn more about other conditions. I just hope that other healthcare professionals get something similar out of this. After all, we will all be a patient at some point of our lives. Surely if we expect to be treated with respect, we should start by respecting others. Even if we take away one small learning from this series, one small change may catalyse something great!
Find out a little more about the series here: Do you know what your patient is thinking?
Here’s the original piece on a patient’s perspective of the obesity paradox: Why there’s no point telling me to lose weight.