Original Paper

Health Care Analysis

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 290-298

First online:

On chronic illness and quality of life: A conceptual framework

  • Lennart NordenfeltAffiliated withDepartment of Health and Society, Linköping University

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In this paper I focus on the topic of chronic illness in the context of quality of life. I offer a conceptual explanation of these notions and then try to systematise the various species of suffering connected with chronic illness. Suffering in illness rarely attracts systematic analysis. Part of the reason for this is that the topic is in a way an aspect of common sense. It has an air of self-evidence and seems not to require analysis. However, it is my contention that the nature of human suffering is not at all selfevident. In many ways we know very little about the content and extent of suffering. And, although it may not be sensible to borrow traditional scientific techniques for the study of suffering, we need as much intellectual penetration and rigorous analysis in order to clarify the nature of suffering as for any other scientific investigation. Moreover, there are good reasons for saying that we ought to direct much more of our attention to this humanistic aspect of medicine. We ought to remember that the existence of suffering is one of the main motives, if indeed not the most important motive, for undertaking the medical enterprise.