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Multiple Vulnerabilities in Medical Settings: Invisible Suffering of Doctors

Faculty of Sociology and Philosophy, Gender Studies Program, European University at Saint-Petersburg, 191187 Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 November 2019 / Revised: 16 December 2019 / Accepted: 20 December 2019 / Published: 25 December 2019
While there is a substantive amount of literature on vulnerability of different kinds of patients in different settings, medical professionals are usually considered as the ones who possess power and gain a privileged position. In this paper, we aim to demonstrate that in a certain context physicians—a social group which is usually referred to as “powerful”—consider themselves vulnerable, and this positioning may influence patients in turn. This perspective highlights the complexity of interactions within medical organizations and contributes to the studies of sensitive topics and vulnerable groups. We conceptualize vulnerability of doctors and discuss what can be problematic in powerful doctors’ position. We describe some features of the post-Soviet context of Russian healthcare system and maternity care, both of which can be conceptualized as a hybrid of legacy of Soviet paternalism and new neoliberal reforms, managerialism and marketization. Empirical research is based on the ethnographic evidence from the study of a Russian perinatal center. In this article, we explore specific “existential” and “moral” vulnerabilities of medical professionals who routinely have to cope with multiple challenges, such as complicated clinical tasks, rigid control of different state bodies and emotional responses of suffering patients. We argue that there is a bond between the vulnerability of doctors and that of patients, whose position becomes more problematic as professionals become more vulnerable. At the end, we discuss methodological and theoretical implications of our research. View Full-Text
Keywords: vulnerability; maternity care; healthcare; doctors; perinatal center; suffering vulnerability; maternity care; healthcare; doctors; perinatal center; suffering
MDPI and ACS Style

Litvina, D.; Novkunskaya, A.; Temkina, A. Multiple Vulnerabilities in Medical Settings: Invisible Suffering of Doctors. Societies 2020, 10, 5.

AMA Style

Litvina D, Novkunskaya A, Temkina A. Multiple Vulnerabilities in Medical Settings: Invisible Suffering of Doctors. Societies. 2020; 10(1):5.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Litvina, Daria, Anastasia Novkunskaya, and Anna Temkina. 2020. "Multiple Vulnerabilities in Medical Settings: Invisible Suffering of Doctors" Societies 10, no. 1: 5.

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