Physician viewpoint: We should stop blaming individuals for unhealthy lifestyle choices

Physicians need to abandon the mindset that sufferers who also practice unhealthy behaviors, such as for example smoking, are to be blamed for their ailments or malignancy, Monica Bhargava, MD, an Oakland, Calif.-structured pulmonary and crucial care physician, wrote within an op-ed posted by The Washington Post.

“Our culture’s inclination to frame specific illnesses as personality defects, instead of complex phenomena with genetic and psychosocial elements, is widespread and bears serious effects,” Dr. Bhargava wrote.

She said smokers are “shamed more vocally” for having lung cancer than other patients who develop illnesses strongly linked to patient behavior or lifestyle. Dr. Bhargava also stated she’s witnessed how this stigma alters the treatment pulmonary patients receive at her practice.

Physicians have got a responsibility to market healthy behaviors and provide patients help quit harmful behaviors, she acknowledged.

“But if our individuals get a cancer diagnosis, we have to look after them with a spirit of unconditional empathy and advocacy,” Dr. Bhargava concluded. “Our patients are a lot more than what they possess ingested or inhaled.”

More articles on patient engagement:
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