The Chronic Responsibility: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Danish Chronic Care Policies

Iben Munksgaard Ravn, Kirsten Frederiksen, Kirsten Beedholm

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article reports on the results of a Fairclough-inspired critical discourse analysis aiming to clarify how chronically ill patients are presented in contemporary Danish chronic care policies. Drawing on Fairclough's three-dimensional framework for analyzing discourse, and using Dean's concepts of governmentality as an interpretative lens, we analyzed and explained six policies published by the Danish Health and Medicines Authority between 2005 and 2013. The analysis revealed that discourses within the policy vision of chronic care consider chronically ill patients' active role, lifestyle, and health behavior to be the main factors influencing susceptibility to chronic diseases. We argue that this discursive construction naturalizes a division between people who can actively manage responsible self-care and those who cannot. Such discourses may serve the interests of those patients who are already activated, while others remain subjugated to certain roles. For example, they may be labeled as "vulnerable".
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)545-554
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • chronically ill

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