Don’t talk to me (an evidence-based poem)
Don’t talk to me about facts and figures,
In a way that gives me medical jitters.
I understand evidence, really I do,
But you don’t make it easy, do you?
A bit less, please, jargonese,
And legalese, in PILs and SPCs*.
On paper so transparently thin,
It’s easily thrown into the bin.
Where’s the benefit information?
A risky business, this medication.
I don’t mean to poo poo your peer review,
It’s just… I don’t trust you.
Especially if you’re big pharma,
Face it: you’ve got bad karma.
Help us to talk to you,
We’ve much to offer, too.
Our words are woven,
With experiences, human.
Medical proof can only get better,
Working together, boxing clever.
Don’t talk to me, without my family,
They’re part of my thinking alchemy.
My brother, my sister, by blood or by water,
My mother, my lover, next door’s daughter.
That queue behind me?
I trust them, implicitly, even when we disagree.
And if I’m in a minority,
The queue is much much longer than three.
Don’t talk at me, speak to me,
Tell me a symptomatic story,
Alive with compassion and care,
Some science too, with creative flair,
One proven in life’s laboratory,
Not given to flights of fantasy.
“The plural of stories is culture”;
Testimonies lend us structure,
Narrative data to inform,
Metaphorical and evidential brainstorms.
Don’t tell me: drugs are the only medicine,
Fine fettle is more than a regular regimen.
A roof over my head, a warm comfy bed,
An honest job, that won’t make me sob.
Food in my bowl,
Food for my soul.
Perhaps most importantly?
My other humans in relation to me.
*PILs are Patient Information Leaflets and SPCs are Summary of Product Characteristics, both found in the sheets contained in packets of medicine.
Why I wrote this poem
In response to my week last week, including:
- Reading the Academy of Medical Sciences‘s report: “Enhancing the use of scientific evidence”. The report highlighted that: only about a third (37%) of the public trust evidence from medical research, compared to approximately two-thirds (65%) who trust the experiences of their friends and family; people are highly sceptical of the role of the pharmaceutical industry in medical research; communication of evidence, including in patient information leaflets, and reference to risk:benefit ratios of medicines, should be clearer and more accessible; patient involvement in medical research should be significantly strengthened. And related blogs from Simon Denegri & the British Medical Journal.
- Following the #EvidenceLive conference on Twitter, particularly threads relating to patient stories in healthcare and medical research.
- Reading a peer-reviewed paper focused on how women rely on their social networks to make healthcare decisions when newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Attending an arts and health event, focused on tackling health inequalities through creative collaborations.
- Reading an interview with Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England
- Being reminded of Elspeth Murray’s fabulous poem: This is Bad Enough. Read it too.