Credible or incredible: experience is evidence

A senior Scottish figure once gave me advice that it is very important to be perceived as “credible”.

I was thinking about this advice recently when the convener of the Parliamentary Committee considering polypropylene Mesh implants concluded:

It is not surprising, therefore, that those who have experienced harm from healthcare may feel that they are not being listened to.

In the same week another example featured in a week long series of articles in the Herald: “A Bitter Pill”. On a background of ever increasing prescribing of antidepressants it appears that my profession is still struggling to accept the value of people’s experience (which may not always be positive) and can respond defensively:

One responder has already articulated my feeling about this:

My understanding is that this series in the Herald arose, at least partly, because of a petition to the Scottish Parliament which seeks consideration of prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal.

One of the explanations for the rising prescribing of antidepressants is that people are often taking them for many years. Another way of looking at this is that people are not stopping these drugs. It is still the case that we really do not understand why this may be and we are not going to understand this until we listen to the experience of those taking these medications.

Experience is evidence and I find it incredible that we do not listen carefully enough to it.


6 Replies to “Credible or incredible: experience is evidence”

  1. You are doing a grand job, Peter. I was struck by the change of wording to the report on mesh implants. Women “felt they were not believed” rather than “the women were not believed”. You are right, it is a very important difference. I find it very upsetting to read GP and consultant letters about me which tend to imply that I might be perceiving things that are not real, i.e. my multitude of symptoms and their severity. When this is coupled with a suggestion of seeing a psychiatrist the whole impression is given that this patient really lacks credibility and may have some sort of mental illness. Sadly I believe this is a deliberate strategy or perhaps doctors actually believe I am mentally unstable. Somehow I think not. The fact that I am left clearly physically disabled works in my favour. It is hard to ignore though it is trivialised. I have listened to the women left in terrible states due to the mesh implants just as I have listened to the young girls harmed by the HVP vaccine. There is a common thread. Young girls in wheelchairs dismissed as “attention seeking teenagers” and also referred to psychiatry. I talk regularly to patients damaged by prescription drugs, many are desperate, suicidal, some planning to end their lives, it is such a tragic waste and yet no-one seems to be remotely interested in doing anything about it. We quite often say in our support groups that the medical world has gone mad for that is how it feels.

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