Monthly Archives: July 2011

A post about POST

In a break from the usual routine of academia, I have spent the past 3 months undertaking a fellowship at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), generously funded by the Wellcome Trust Medical History and Humanities programme. POST … Continue reading

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Obesity and autism: a comparison on the meaning of disease

When we think about disease, we often think of a person having a disease, looking for a physician to help this patient. The traditional view is that disease is concerned with one individual’s problem alone, his disease. However, this movie challenges this view. Let us first consider autism. Autistic children require a lot of time and resources from the parents and the family. This often puts distress on the family, especially those with siblings. Since autism is incurable, the treatment aim is to lessen associated deficits and family distress. This is apparently a new concept to the traditional view of ‘treating the patient’s disease’, because the treatment coverage expands from the disease individual to those around him.
While on the topic of treatment, let us consider another perspective by taking a look at obesity. During the course of treatment, the picture of it usually includes the physician, the patient, drugs and other treatment methods. The people subjects concerned are basically the one with the disease and the one to treat the disease. Yet, for obesity, a support group which neither has the disease nor is responsible for treating the disease is a crucial element in the success of eradicating obesity. Due to discrimination and rejection from the society, negative emotions bother obese people a great deal. They tend to stay at home in order not to be seen and mocked at, where they continue eating without much physical exercise, thus entering a vicious cycle of weight gain. Even if the obese person is determined to keep his weight off, withdrawal symptoms may be difficult to deal with. This is where the support group, friends or family, can make a real difference. The treatment thus no longer consists of only the patient and the doctor, but together with support from others to make the treatment easier for all parties.
With more insight into medical humanities, we begin to think of health and disease in ways that we had never considered before. I believe this is significant and essential to further development in medicine, because after all, medicine is all about people. It is about how we, as human beings, live our lives. Continue reading

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Web 2.0 and social media: new tools for patient empowerment and narrative medicine.

I am very keen myself in further exploring the potentialities of web 2.0 social media as new tools for patient empowerment and narrative medicine and welcome collaborations. I recently attended “Doctors2.0” first European international congress focused on social media, internet and health-care, and my opinion piece where I discuss the relocation of medical expertise through online social media can be accessed here
In the world of e-health, the concept of expertise is constantly being re-located and is shifting from the official top-down appointed expert authority in the field to the un-officially bottom up community-recognized authority because of the experiential knowledge accumulated. Continue reading

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