I have looked at why some people cope with disease better than others. Much of the research I have done points to parts of life where people are affected by disease. There are consistent themes for people at these moments that surface when you spend time analysing people’s stories, language, dialog with people they feel important and metaphors they express both linguistically and visually.
As you read people’s stories you can see the different events and emotions that they experience. While disease and people have different journeys, I have found one interesting area that seems to be common for people. Peoples ability to cope with disease seems to split people into two camps. There are “copers” and “non copers”. At first I thought that this maybe due to some defining event or as a result of treatment or the stage of disease. I’m still looking to see what make some one cope with disease and how this has impact on the outcome of disease but a recent book suggested to me by Mike Baldwin suggest an intriguing hypothesis. In the Art of Choosing by Iyengar Sheena she lays out the argument that choice is a fundamental driver for humans. It improves our ability to manage life. It seems that we need to have or at least perceive that we have choice. In dealing with disease this could translate into those people who have a choice in how their disease is managed maybe in a better place to cope with it. Possibly this could lead to a better life in coping with disease.
Enabling patients to cope with disease may need physicians to offer choice, patient support groups to support choice, payors to allow choice and pharmaceuticals to create value in the choices. Understanding which choices are relevant to improving outcomes for patients and presenting these in a way that enables people with disease to make choices relevant for their lives is a goal for everyone dedicated to disease management. Stories of people with disease are one way of helping people understand the choices people have.