Are you working?

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 21 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:a859
  1. Amanda Williams, reader in clinical health psychology, University College London
  1. Amanda.williams{at}

    The patient who coauthored this piece, a refugee who is now resident in the UK, is profoundly grateful for the medical help he has received under the NHS, an institution he much admires. But recently he asked me, “Why do doctors ask me if I’m working—it’s the first question they ask. Why don’t they ask me first about my health problems?” He is currently being investigated and treated for several.

    I asked what this question meant to him, and was shamed …

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