Repositioning the patient: the implications of being 'at risk'

Scott, S, Prior, L, Wood, F and Gray, J (2005) Repositioning the patient: the implications of being 'at risk'. Social Science and Medicine, 60 (8). pp. 1869-1879. ISSN 0277-9536

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Abstract

In the modern era of biomedical practice, genetic knowledge has redefined the idea of 'the patient' to include those who are 'at risk' of disease alongside those who are already sick. For such individuals, it is risk itself that constitutes the raison d'tre of medical intervention. Using data from interviews with 58 users of a UK cancer genetics service together with data derived from clinical consultations, we consider the way such patients or clients make sense of a cancer genetic risk estimate and how they integrate genetic risk information into their lifeworld. In particular, we note that patient-clients who are 'at risk' tend to see themselves in a liminal position betwixt the healthy and the sick, and that such individuals consequently seek recourse to systems of medical surveillance that can continuously monitor their state of health. Our analysis also revealed the fact that many of those deemed by professionals to be at low risk of inheriting cancer-related mutations subsequently strove to be re-categorised as being at moderate or high risk of an adverse outcome. A number of explanations concerning lay health beliefs, lay 'representations' of health and the nature of the patient-client's lifeworld are examined and assessed in order to account for this apparent paradox.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Depositing User: Susie Scott
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:38
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2012 08:28
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/27181
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