In een onderzoek dat deze week in de British Medical Journal werd gepubliceerd beschrijven de wetenschappers hoe longkankerpatiënten zich ernstig gestigmatiseerd, beschaamd en beschuldigd voelen, of ze nu ooit gerookt hebben of niet. Longkanker wordt veelvuldig gebruikt om rokers te ‘onderwijzen’ over de nadelige effecten van roken, maar de onderzoekers waarschuwen ervoor dat die constante associatie ernstige schade aanricht onder deze patiënten en voorzichtig gebruikt dient te worden.
De enquête werd gehouden onder 45 patiënten.
Participants experienced stigma commonly felt by patients with other types of cancer, but, whether they smoked or not, they felt particularly stigmatised because the disease is so strongly associated with smoking. Interaction with family, friends, and doctors was often affected as a result, and many patients, particularly those who had stopped smoking years ago or had never smoked, felt unjustly blamed for their illness. Those who resisted victim blaming maintained that the real culprits were tobacco companies with unscrupulous policies. Some patients concealed their illness, which sometimes had adverse financial consequences or made it hard for them to gain support from other people. Some indicated that newspaper and television reports may have added to the stigma: television advertisements aim to put young people off tobacco, but they usually portray a dreadful death, which may exacerbate fear and anxiety. A few patients were worried that diagnosis, access to care, and research into lung cancer might be adversely affected by the stigma attached to the disease and those who smoke.