Patients’ experiences of treatment burden: so much more than a series of physical side effects!

Minimally Disruptive Medicine

Living with a long term condition is hard work.  No-one would argue that coping with chronic pain, breathlessness or fatigue isn’t difficult, nor that health services and professionals shouldn’t do what they can to try and relieve these symptoms.  The benefits of medication, surgery and rehabilitation are undeniable; they save lives and reduce symptoms for millions.  But in the search for cures, have we underestimated the costs and disruptions that treatments generate for patients? And when patients ‘fail’ to follow health professionals’ recommendations, why do we assume that the problem lies with the patients and not the treatments? These are important questions that the Minimally Disruptive Medicine movement and our recent review paper seek to address.

We systematically reviewed the qualitative literature on treatment burden and identified a total of 11 papers which investigated patients’ (and sometimes also families’) perspectives of treatment burden; what it felt like to live day-after-day…

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