Intended for healthcare professionals

What Your Patient Is Thinking

Guidance for "What Your Patient is Thinking" articles


What Your Patient Is Thinking (WYPIT) is a series led and edited by patients and carers.

What are they about?

The articles are written by patients and carers and are a key part of The BMJ’s campaign to increase partnership with patients and public in healthcare. We wanted to have a series which is run and authored by patients, carers and the public.

These articles contain messages that are thought provoking, and challenging for clinical readers of The BMJ, who mainly consist of doctors from across the world. A WYPIT should tell clinicians things along the lines of “What I wish you [The BMJ’s audience] knew, and why.”, with learning that clinicians can take from your experience.

Who can write for us?

Anyone using healthcare services in any country , either on their own, or as a carer for someone else is welcome to write for us. As we want to ensure we capture a variety of stories and perspectives we prioritise pieces from those who are not health professionals to avoid too many ‘doctor as patient’ stories.

WYPITs are usually written by one person. Group authorship will be considered in rare circumstances.


Where are they published?

They are published in full online at bmj.com and anyone can access them for free (including patients, carers and members of the public). Find the archive here . Most of the articles are re-published in print versions of the journal targeted at specific groups of readers for example UK doctors, or different global regions. We aim to publish between one and two articles per month.

What topics are covered?

Articles can be about any aspect of patient or carer experiences. This might include what it is like for you to live with your condition or as a carer or your experience of an appointment or procedure. This might be in relation to a single healthcare appointment to those from a lifetime of managing a long term health condition. It is important for the piece to include lessons for doctors. They can focus on a particular aspect of care or treatment, offer a new angle on a familiar situation, or ask controversial questions from the patient or carer's perspective. They can be triggered by good or bad experiences but all of them should give healthcare professionals and, or policy makers practical things that they can do differently tomorrow as a result of reading the article.
For this reason, our patient and clinical editors will work with you to develop your piece and to suggest specific questions to prompt reflection and action from the readership, that follow from the key points of your article. For example, “Communicate well” is not as useful as “when the doctor said xyz it made it easier for me to do abc”.
For people who might not feel comfortable writing, we have a podcast series and editors who can help create the articles, so don’t let that put you off contacting us.

What happens to my article when I have submitted it?

Most of the articles we receive will go through some editing before publication. This will be completed by the series editors and will be shared with you before publication for your approval. The purpose of this editing is to ensure the language and terms used fit within our guidelines. It is also to ensure that your article focuses on the learning points for healthcare professionals in a clear and concise way. During the editing process some of your article may be removed to focus on other points which may be new or important to cover. This editing will not aim change the message of your article but you may be asked to provide some further information on sections.

How do we deal with articles which are critical of doctors?

As a matter of the course this series contains themes which are critical of doctors. Where doctors may be identifiable we must comply with media laws on defamation. The BMJ has a general policy which applies to all content which criticises clinicians (including content written by other doctors, journalists or patients and carers). We will often need to work with you to ensure that individual clinicians cannot be identified. In some cases, we may have to anonymise the article, rather than publish it with your name on it. The editor working with you on your article will be able to clarify if the article could be defamatory and will work through various options.

What else do I need to know?

We encourage all authors to sign their articles but are happy to publish articles anonymously if you prefer. We also need authors to sign a competing interest form. (http://static.www.bmj.com/sites/default/files/attachments/resources/2011...) If you need help in any way with this please let us know.

What format should I use?

LENGTH: Authors should aim to write a narrative of around 650 words. This includes the summary box at the end of each piece, called “What You Need To Know.”
SUMMARY BOX: " What you need to know" This should include three short bullet points covering the practical things that health professionals might consider doing as a result of reading the article. The editor will work with you to edit the text and may ask doctors working in The BMJ what elements they think are the most powerful.
QUESTIONS FOR DOCTORS: “Education into practice” To encourage ongoing professional learning and development we present a series of reflective questions for doctors based on the content of many of our education articles, including WYPITs. These are written in collaboration with one of the clinical editors. This is the policy across all education articles. Authors can provide any suggestions to these and will also be able to review and amend questions during the editing process.
OTHER BOXES: We are happy to consider another box containing , for example, useful websites or other learning resources for health professionals.
REFERENCES: as a general rule we discourage the use of references in these articles to retain their focus and tone on personal human experience. If you feel a reference is needed please let the editor know and we can discuss whether there is a different way to do this, or if an exception is needed.
ILLUSTRATION: Articles are usually published with an accompanying illustration. This is commissioned after the article has been accepted. The images are usually abstract and based on an illustrators impression of the article. Almost all authors are very happy with these. But if you are unhappy with the image and this cannot be resolved, we can publish the article without an image.
STYLE: We ask authors to write in plain English, rather than academic sounding language, and we avoid an over prescriptive tone. For example, we encourage authors to use words such as suggest, might, or offer when describing how readers might change their practice (rather than use rigid statements such as always, never, must, should).

What are the alternatives?

Some people find it difficult to turn a personal story into something doctors can learn from but if the story is still powerful we are happy to consider publication of articles in another form, for example as BMJ blogs/opinion.

How do I submit a WYPIT?


If you have an idea for a WYPIT article please get in in touch with our patient editor of the WYPITs series Emma Cartwright (ecartwright@bmj.com) and include an outline of what you would like to say. Alternatively you can complete the following form to submit your WYPIT idea - Pitch Form

What these articles are not


- Complaints about or praise of a named healthcare professional or clinic/hospital
- Exploration / Reflections of Legal cases
- Written on behalf of someone else (for example, a carer must write about being a carer, not what they suspect it is like to be the patient)
- Promotion of a particular treatment or style that other healthcare professionals cannot access/emulate; or
- Aimed at other patients.