Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"Not so fast: Why your doctor is skeptical"

New commentary from Dr. Robert Shmerling, MD, of Harvard Medical School.
Perhaps this has happened to you: There's a news report in the paper about a new drug that sounds great, seems safe, works well and is intended for symptoms you have, such as arthritis, heartburn or allergies. At your next doctor's visit, you bring in the article, fully expecting to get a prescription for it.

Not so fast. Your doctor raises one eyebrow and seems unimpressed and begins a speech that sounds like it's been delivered many times before, about why that drug isn't for you, how an older, generic medicine might work just as well, or how you really don't need a medication at all..."
Why is the doctor unimpressed? Dr. Schmerling presents a list of reasons. He also comments on direct-to-consumer ads:
While there are many reliable sources of information, there are also many ways to be misled, especially when the source is trying to sell something or convince its audience of a particular point of view.

It makes sense to think about where the information is coming from and whether there is any reason to think that balance and accuracy may be less than optimal. An example is a television advertisement for a prescription medication. While it may provide accurate and useful information about the condition, it's unlikely you'll hear much about treating the condition without medication or with a competitor's medication, even if those options are also effective.

It might seem like your doctor is stuck in the past, unwilling to learn "new tricks" of the trade. And you might be right. But sometimes a healthy dose of skepticism — both yours and your doctor's — can be good for your health...
Much more, at Intelihealth.


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