Patient narratives of myalgic encephalomyelitis: situated knowledge for re/constructing healthcare

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Medical policies, practices, and definitions do not exist solely in the clinical realm; they show up in the lived experiences of patients. This research examines how people with the chronic

Medical policies, practices, and definitions do not exist solely in the clinical realm; they show up in the lived experiences of patients. This research examines how people with the chronic illness called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) define their own illness experiences. They have situated knowledge about their illness onset, search for care, and clinical encounters. Their knowledge complicates and challenges the existing norms in clinical practice and medical discourse, as the experience of searching for care with ME reveals weaknesses in a system that is focused on acute care. Patient narratives reveal institutional patterns that obstruct access to medical care, such as disbelief from clinicians and lack of training in chronic illness protocols. They also reveal patterns in physician behavior that indicate the likelihood of receiving effective care. These patient narratives serve as a basis for continued examination of ME as well as further reconstruction of medical practice and procedure.