Disease: an ill‐founded concept at odds with the principle of patient‐centred medicine

Oggie Arandelovic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Despite the at least decades long record of philosophical recognition and interest, the intricacy of the deceptively familiar appearing concepts of ‘disease’, ‘disorder’, ‘disability’, and so forth, has only recently begun showing itself with clarity in the popular discourse wherein its newly emerging prominence stems from the liberties and restrictions contingent upon it. Whether a person is deemed to be afflicted by a disease or a disorder governs their ability to access health care, be it free at the point of use or provided by an insurer; it also influences the treatment of individuals by the judicial system and employers; it even affects one's own perception of self.

All existing philosophical definitions of disease struggle with coherency, causing much confusion and strife, and leading to inconsistencies in real-world practice. Hence, there is a real need for an alternative.

Materials and Methods
In the present article I analyse the variety of contemporary views of disease, showing them all to be inadequate and lacking in firm philosophical foundations, and failing to meet the desideratum of patient-driven care.

Illuminated by the insights emanating from the said analysis, I introduce a novel approach with firm ethical foundations, which foundations are rooted in sentience, that is the subjective experience of sentient beings.

I argue that the notion of disease is at best superfluous, and likely even harmful in the provision of compassionate and patient-centred care.

Using a series of presently contentious cases illustrate the power of the proposed framework which is capable of providing actionable and humane solutions to problems that leave the current theories confounded.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
VolumeEarly View
Early online date18 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Feb 2024


  • Disability
  • Illness
  • Personalized
  • Sickness
  • Targeted


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