The need for a standardized conceptual term to describe invalidation of patient symptoms

J Health Psychol. 2022 Aug;27(9):2104-2114. doi: 10.1177/13591053211024718. Epub 2021 Jun 11.


In this paper, I comment on a growing literature documenting that many patients perceive their symptoms have been dismissed, ignored, not taken seriously, not believed, etc. (i.e. invalidated) by healthcare providers. I provide a narrative review of research reporting on this patient-provider phenomenon, invalidation of patient symptoms, in various illness contexts in order to highlight the variability concerning how scholars have been referring to the seemingly same phenomenon. Next, I discuss the challenges this variability poses for scholarship, including how it precludes the ability to build on our understanding of how it contributes to the patient experience and related health outcomes. I conclude with recommendations for future research.

Keywords: diagnosis; patient-provider communication; patients; phenomenology; symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans