Starting in the 1960s, a broad-based patients’ rights movement began to question doctors’ paternalism and to demand disclosure of medical information, informed consent, and active participation by the individual in personal health care. According to scholars, these changes contributed to downplay the biomedical approach in favor of a more patient-oriented perspective. The Swedish non-profit organization Consumer Association for Medicines and Health (KILEN) has offered the possibility for consumers to report their perceptions and experiences from their use of medicines in order to strengthen consumer rights within the health care sector.
In this paper, qualitative content analysis was used to analyze 181 KILEN consumer reports of adverse events from antidepressant medications in order to explore patients’ views of mental ill health symptoms and the doctor-patient interaction.
Overall, the KILEN stories contained negative experiences of the patients’ medical encounters. Some reports indicated intense emotional outrage and strong feelings of abuse by the health care system. Many reports suggested that doctors and patients had very different accounts of the nature of the problems for which the patient was seeking help. Although patients sought help for problems like tiredness and sleeplessness (often with a personal crisis of some sort as a described cause), the treating doctor in most cases was exceptionally quick in both diagnosing depression and prescribing antidepressant treatment. When patients felt they were not being listened to, trust in the doctor was compromised. This was evident in the cases when the doctor tried to convince them to take part in medical treatment, sometimes by threatening to withdraw their sick-listing.
Overall, this study suggests that the dynamics happening in the medical encounter may still be highly affected by a medical dominance, instead of a patient-oriented perspective. This may contribute to a questionable medicalization and/or pharmaceuticalization of depression.