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  • The Importance of Person-First Language for an IPF Patient

    Posted by Charlene Marshall on April 26, 2018 at 4:00 am

    I am in the midst of writing a longer column on Pulmonary Fibrosis News about the importance of using person-first language when referring to someone with a disability or illness. Since being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in early 2016 I have become acutely aware of how infrequently someone’s primary identity is put before his or her disability or illness. For example, while admitted to hospital I have oftentimes been referenced to or spoken about as the “PF patient”.


    Person-first language can make a huge difference in how we feel about ourselves as patients. On the regular, I work with many children who have a diagnosis of autism, and/or other mental health or disability diagnoses. I actively try to speak about them as the child first, so I talk about the “child with autism”, as opposed to the “autistic child”. This is applicable to those of us living with an illness as well. Our first identity, regardless of our PF diagnosis is individual or person and that should be how we are first referenced. I don’t mind being referred to as the “patient with PF”, however, I find myself a little bit perturbed when someone calls me the “PF patient”, putting my main identity second to my disease.


    This is something I have observed over the years, and I like to take the opportunity to highlight it for others’ who simply may not know of or have an awareness about this. I try and advocate for the importance of person-first language and how it makes us feel as patients. I thought I would bring it up in our PF forums which is among many other patients who may also experience this to obtain their thoughts and reactions.


    • Is this something you are aware of or notice when others, such as medical professionals, make reference to you at the hospital?


    • If so, does it bother you?


    • Do you take steps to correct it?

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

    Warm regards,

    replied 6 years, 2 months ago 1 Member · 0 Replies
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