Patients’ embodied experiences do not always correspond to the biomedical concepts of particular diseases. Drawing from year-long fieldwork in the Philippines that involved semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and digital diaries, we examine how individuals ‘do’ hypertension through their embodied experiences and the knowledge and practice that emerge from them. Drawing inspiration from Annemarie Mol’s work on the notion of ‘multiplicity’ of disease, our analysis was informed by a commitment to privileging patients’ embodied experiences and the multiple ontologies of hypertension. We find that for patients diagnosed with hypertension in the Philippines, symptoms enact illness; patients rely on their own embodied knowledge to define their illness’ nature (e.g., diagnosis), experience (e.g., frequency of symptoms and non-chronicity) and praxis (e.g., self-care practices). We show how this knowledge gained from having embodied experiences of living with the disease interacts in various ways with biomedical knowledge, other diagnostic labels and clinical practices, to shape how hypertension manifests and is managed by patients. Beyond interrogating the relationship between what counts as a ‘disease’ and what is considered a ‘symptom’, our findings underscore the need to pay attention instead to the mutually co-constitutive processes of embodied experiences and disease categories in co-producing patient knowledge.
Lasco, G., Renedo, A., Mendoza, J., Seguin, M.L., Palafox, B., Palileo-Villanueva, L.M., Balabanova, D., & McKee, M. (2022). ‘Doing’ hypertension: Experiential knowledge and practice in the self-management of ‘high blood’ in the Philippines. Sociology of Health & Illness, 44(7), 1167-1181. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.13503