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6.1.16 The Chronic Disease Coalition is gathering stories from those with chronic illnesses – as well as from patients’ family members, advocates and caregivers – in hopes of improving the lives of people dealing with these conditions all over the United States. We have a new, brief survey to help understand what people with chronic disease are going through nationwide. You can access it by clicking here. Why is this important? About half of all adults in the United States – 117 million people – have one or more chronic health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in every four adults has two or more chronic health conditions. Sharing your story or a loved one’s story matters. Here are three ways sharing personal information can help others. 1. Empower yourself and others Sharing your experiences can help others who may have only recently been diagnosed, who are trying to sort out complicated insurance issues or simply need to know that they aren’t alone. At the same time, a growing body of evidence supports the idea that telling your story can have therapeutic value while also diminishing stigma and worry about illness. Dr. Annie Brewster, a Massachusetts General Hospital internist, developed a story kiosk at the hospital for this reason. “Facing illness can be scary and isolating, and hospitals can be alienating,” she said in an article in CommonHealth. “Our goals are to empower and connect individuals facing health challenges — to remind people that they are not alone — and to improve the culture of the hospital through storytelling.” 2. Advocacy and education Sharing a personal story can bridge the gap between policies or technology and real-life patient experiences, illustrating the real-life impacts of research, technological advances or, in unfortunate cases, insurance policies that discriminate on the basis of illness or condition. 3. It’s good for your health! A clinical trial by the Annals of Internal Medicine found that storytelling could have beneficial effects on patients with high blood pressure, helping to control high blood pressure as effectively as the addition of more medications. “Telling and listening to stories is the way we make sense of our lives,” study author and researcher Dr. Thomas K. Houston told the New York Times. “That natural tendency may have the potential to alter behavior and improve health.” You can make a difference! Please click here to share your story. Share Your Story