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Patients’ experiences of disease should be taken more seriously, says study

Health experts say more attention should be given to patients’ experiences after research found multiple examples of their insights being undervalued.

A study led by the University of Cambridge and King’s College London found clinicians ranked patient self-assessments as the least important when making diagnostic decisions.

Ethnicity and gender were felt to influence diagnosis, particularly a perception that women were more likely to be told their symptoms were psychosomatic. Male clinicians were more likely to say that patients overplay symptoms.

The findings prompted calls for clinicians to move away from the “doctor knows best attitude” when caring for patients.

One patient shared the feeling of being disbelieved as “degrading and dehumanising”, and added: “I’ll tell them my symptoms and they’ll tell me that symptom is wrong, or I can’t feel pain there, or in that way.”

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Source: The Guardian, 18 December 2023


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