Monday, December 6, 2010

Close-ups: bringing the patient perspective to AFP

In 2007, AFP introduced a new regular feature called "Close-ups: A Patient's Perspective." In an editorial explaining the rationale for Close-ups, which includes a patient's story in his or her own words, a photo of the patient, and a brief clinician commentary, Associate Deputy Editor Caroline Wellbery, MD wrote:

Physicians live in a health care environment that continually raises difficult issues, many of them of a magnitude that transcends our personal practices: uninsured patients, a fragmented health care system, epidemics of obesity and lung disease, the threat of bioterrorism, contentious issues such as abortion, and rising health care costs. For anyone overwhelmed by contemporary health care developments, going back to our roots—meaningful, healing relationships with the people and communities we care for—might put our daily practice into perspective. Close-ups offers an intimate, personal reminder of this most important task.

"The Blood Sugar Diaries" in the December 1st issue of AFP relates the fears of a man with type 2 diabetes when he is told by his physician that he will need to use insulin. Explaining that several close relatives suffered serious complications or death shortly after starting insulin, the man says: "These are the reasons why I told my doctor 'no way' when she told me that I needed insulin. I didn't want to end up like my family members. I didn't want to go on dialysis, lose my leg, go blind, or die." These sentences speak volumes about the need for family physicians not only to provide patient education to patients with chronic conditions, but to explore existing beliefs regarding health and to meet patients where they are.

You can find a collection of previously published Close-Ups at We welcome new submissions from patients and clinicians. Guidelines for contributing to this feature can be found in our Authors' Guide.