What Your Patient Is Thinking

Guidance for "What Your Patient is Thinking" articles

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

What are they about?

The articles are written by patients and carers and contain messages that are thought provoking, and challenging for international readers of The BMJ, along the lines of “What I wish you [The BMJ’s audience] knew, and why.” Find the archive here.

They are published in full online at bmj.com and all readers have free access to them. 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.

Articles can be about any aspect of patient care and experience. From lessons for doctors from a single healthcare appointment to those from a lifetime of managing a chronic disease. They can be issue based, offer a new angle on a familiar situation, or ask controversial questions from the patient or carer's perspective. They are not necessarily about incidents where care and understanding was not optimum - they can also be about things that medical teams have done well.

Above all, they should give healthcare professionals and policy makers something to take away and put into practice. For this reason, it’s important for authors to be as specific as possible about the recommendations that flow from their experience. “Communicate well” is not as useful as “when the doctor said 'xyz' it made it easier for me to do abc”.

Format: what to include

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 encapsulating 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 to help the article.

OTHER BOXES: We are happy to consider a second box containing, for example, useful websites or other learning resources for health professionals. We may also suggest you add some extra explanatory information in a short box if we think the context of your care needs a bit more elaboration.

What may be added:

ILLUSTRATION: Articles are usually published with an accompanying illustration. This is commissioned after the article has been accepted.

QUESTIONS FOR DOCTOR: To encourage ongoing professional learning and development we host a series of reflective questions for doctors based on the content of many of our education article, including WYPITs. These are written by one of the editors and ask the reader what they might do differently having read your article. (The authors of the education articles are not routinely asked to be involved in this process).


In the education section of the journal where WYPITs are published we aim to provide up to date and original content to engage and challenge postgraduate doctors and clinical researchers internationally.

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').

Who can write one?

Anyone who is using the healthcare system, either on their own behalf or for someone else. To avoid getting overwhelmed by ‘doctor as patient’ stories, we prioritise pieces from those who are not health professionals. Authors should bear in mind that our readership is international and avoid detailed comments about specific national policies.

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 a BMJ blogs/opinion piece. If you have an idea for a WYPIT article and want to discuss it before submission please get in touch with BMJ patient editor Leah Hardy (lhardy@bmj.com) and include an outline of what you would like to say.

What these articles are not

  • Complaints about or praise of a named healthcare professional or clinic/hospital;
  • Legal cases which are not resolved;
  • A personal anecdote or journey through the healthcare system with no learning points;
  • 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.

Other considerations

  • We encourage all authors to sign their articles but are happy to discuss anonymity is this is prefered. We also need authors to sign a competing interest form. If you need help in any way with this please let us know.