#ClinicSpeak: Does PPI increase social capital?

The impact of reducing social isolation cannot be under-estimated. It may prevent the need for assisted suicide. #ClinicSpeak

My wife was travelling back from a conference in Bath yesterday and she listened to the following programme about a man with PPMS who had made a decision to end his life at a clinic in Switzerland, I assume Dignitas. However, a fellow MSer decided to befriend him and try and help. As a result of her intervention, Colin went from being socially isolated to having a friend and being welcomed into her family. In short, he had someone who cared about him. As a result of their friendship, he has postponed suicide as an option to dealing with his life with primary progressive MS. 

This is social capital at work. If you increase your social capital, i.e your network of friends and family, then your life becomes worthwhile. 

It has recently come to my attention that our patients with MS who engage with our patient and public involvement initiatives (PPI) seem to be doing much better than those who don't. Engagers are better informed, have improved quality of life and seem to have a renewed purpose. They get more out of meeting other people with MS and sharing experiences than they do out of the actual PPI activity. This could all be an association, i.e. the kind of pwMS who engage with PPI projects are self-selecting and will do better than those who don't engage. 

I hypothesise that it is causal, i.e. PPI is acting as a catalyst and is increasing their social capital and hence their outcomes. I am not sure if anyone has studied or documented this observation, but it would be great to have the evidence at hand. 

BBC RADIO 4. Hardeep's Sunday Lunch, Series 6. Sunday 1st October 2017 - 13:30.

In the first programme of this series, Hardeep is in his native Scotland to cook lunch for Inverness based friends Colin Campbell and Rona Tynan. Colin has lived with primary progressive multiple sclerosis since his 30s and at the age of 56 made the decision to end his life at a Swiss Clinic rather than face an unbearable, lonely decline. Hearing his plight, fellow MS patient Rona Tynan felt compelled to get in touch with him. The former London Met police officer has lived with MS for 12 years and she felt distressed that Colin wanted to end his life, especially when he was more able than her. In June this year, when Hardeep turned up at Rona's door to make the pair of them a haggis curry, Colin still had an appointment for the Swiss Clinic in his diary.

Producer: Helen Lee.

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