For physicians and health care workers
Patients with chronic illness are a
significant proportion of our practice. We're taught how to diagnose and
manage their illnesses with medications, and can easily explain the
current theories behind pathogenesis and prognosis. However, as health
care providers, we sometimes forget that illness is more than just
pathology and medical management.
The diagnosis of a chronic illness
represents a dramatic disruption in all aspects of a person's life. In
addition to the disability caused by physical symptoms, the patient must
deal with the resulting social isolation, potential stigmatization, and
loss of sense of self. Hopes and dreams are interrupted and changed,
requiring people to restructure their biographies and self-conceptions.
Additionally, as chronic illness is long-standing and often progressive,
the patient constantly faces uncertainty and fear surrounding the future.
Most health care practitioners have
a very limited perspective on what it's like to live with a chronic
illness. We see our patients for short office visits which are often
focused on physical symptoms. We fail to grasp how much the disease is
affecting their lives. Understanding what they face on a daily basis would
allow us to provide improved care and support.
How better to approach this topic
than through the arts?
Theatre is an interactive,
accessible, and intimate way to explore research findings. The emotional
impact of immediate audience engagement creates lasting impressions and
stimulates discussion. Stories from the Closet is a milestone in the
emerging field of research-based theatre and its educational and emotional
impact will be felt by both doctors and patients alike.