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J Soc Policy. 2010 Oct;39(4):505-521.

Patient Groups and the Construction of the Patient-Consumer in Britain: An Historical Overview.

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Centre for History in Public Health, Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT email:


This article presents an historical overview of the changing meaning of the patient-consumer, and specifically the role played by patient groups in constructing the patient as consumer. It is argued that patient groups were central to the formation of the patient-consumer, but as health consumerism was taken on by the state, they lost control of this figure. Competing understandings of what it meant to be a patient-consumer developed, a shift that raises further questions about the unity of claims made in the name of the patient-consumer.

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