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Clinician's Corner
April 22 2009

Management of Diseases Without Current Treatment Options: Something Can Be Done

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Ophthalmology, Wilmer Eye Institute (Dr Kiser); and Departments of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Surgery, and Health Policy and Management (Dr Pronovost), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

JAMA. 2009;301(16):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.506

After being diagnosed with a disabling, chronic disease, such as some retinal diseases and neurodegenerative diseases, there is nothing more disheartening than for the patient to hear that nothing can be done to treat it. Tragically, some diseases still lack a medical treatment to slow, stop, or reverse their course. In addition, even when therapy is available to treat a chronic disease, some patients are often left with distressing symptoms. Research to alleviate these symptoms has received relatively little attention, and physicians struggle with how to provide care for these patients. Studies are needed to understand and mitigate patients' disease-related symptoms that often result in significant distress, morbidity, and reduced quality of life. In this Commentary, we discuss research that is based on patient feedback and focused on investigating the concerns pertinent to patients.