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Why Patient Stories Matter at Professional Conferences

Heading Text Why Patient Stories Matter at Professional Conferences


Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely crucial that listening takes place in the clinical encounter. It is just a different type of listening. It is listening to understand that individual and their particular contexts. Who are they now? Who were they? Who do they want to be? How is pain affecting their lives? Their self? Their families? Their future? What do they make of their pain? What do they think the path forward could look like?

It is incredibly important to listen to a person’s story. Their pain is in their story – in their very being, their very lives – not in their hip, not in their back or neck or knee. It is never just a tissue problem. Tissues don’t feel pain, people do. With all their messy internal and external contexts, all their messy humanity.

The only way to help that person make sense of things is figure out what doesn’t make sense. And making sense is the way forward. When things make sense we can take action. We can be more involved in our own care. So listening within the clinical encounter is incredibly important.

Key Points

If you want to understand pain, it makes sense to learn from the people who live with it.

Our stories matter. Our stories are evidence. Our stories are data. Our stories, our insights, our perspectives can advance learning and understanding and research and practice.

And through reading systematic research of our stories, you can better understand those patients who come to you in the chaos, unable to give voice to their experience.

By understanding our stories, you can help your patients give voice to theirs.

“This isn’t just about listening to patient stories, it’s about learning from people with lived experience who have useful knowledge and insights and collaboration between researchers, healthcare professionals, and people living with pain in order to better understand, study, educate about, and treat/manage pain. “

-Joletta Belton

Research papers

Joletta Belton wrote this blog (read the full blog here). But there is more to read read on this.

Here is a recent BMJ blog post on what patient partnerships in clinical care looks like: Community initiative co-led with patients could improve care for people with complex health and social needs

A sample of resources researchers can use to address their concerns and authentically engage patients as partners in research: Patients as Partners in Research: There Is Plenty of Help for Researchers


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