Christina, who lives in Portland, Maine, said she felt ignored by doctors for years. When she was 50 pounds heavier, her providers sometimes blamed her body size when she discussed her health concerns.
One instance occurred weeks after she had fallen off her bike. “My elbow was still hurting,” said Christina, 39, who asked that her last name be withheld when discussing her medical history. “I went to my regular primary care doctor and she just sort of hand-waved it off as ‘Well, you’re overweight and it’s putting stress on your joints.’”
Eventually, Christina visited an urgent care centre, where providers performed an X-ray and found she had chipped a bone in her arm.
The experience of having one’s concerns dismissed by a medical provider, often referred to as medical gaslighting, can happen to anyone. A recent New York Times article on the topic received more than 2,800 comments: Some recounted misdiagnoses that nearly cost them their lives or that delayed treatment, leading to unnecessary suffering. Patients with long Covid wrote about how they felt ignored by the doctors they turned to for help.
Lately, the problem has been drawing attention – in both the medical community and the general public – for disproportionately affecting women, people of color, geriatric patients and LGBTQ people. For example, studies have found that women are more likely than men to be misdiagnosed with certain conditions – like heart disease and autoimmune disorders – and they often