To take or not to take: the worlds of antidepressant use

A seminar by Sylvia Jaworska (University of Reading)

  • Date: 29 OCTOBER 2021  from 11:00 to 13:00

  • Event location: online - Teams

  • Type: Seminars

Almost 200k people in the EU die each year because of non-adherence to their prescribed medicines. This is a critical issue especially in the case of antidepressants with only 37% of patients adhering to medication taking. The damning statistics go on and on and the patient is nearly always framed as the problem but patients’ perspectives are never considered. This study reports on a corpus-based project that investigates the discursive constructions of the ‘talk’ about adherence to antidepressants (Ads). It considers two perspectives, that of medical professionals and patients. Two data sets, a corpus of medical professional literature on antidepressant use (AD_MED) and a corpus of relevant patients’ narratives sourced online (AD_PAT) were created and compared. Using the tools and insights from a corpus-assisted discourse analysis (CADS) and systemic functional linguistics, the talk focuses specifically on patents’ perspectives, on what they do with ADs and what ADs do to them. The analysis of language use around Ads shows a complex and context specific worlds of peoples’ medicine-taking affected by personal, emotional, social, and lifestyle factors not to mention often difficult dosing regimens. This is evidenced in the diversity of terms that people use to describe ADs (e.g. antidepressants, ADs, meds, drugs, pills, tablets, ‘my lift’, ) , specific processes and actions associated with each term as well as figurative language and metaphorical scenarios that they frequently employ. Patients also often report on the stigma that it is attached to people suffering from depression influencing what they do with ADs. The talk finishes with some implications of studying the language of patient’s talk for the improvement of clinical practice, adherence and health outcomes.