The pearl I experienced in person was the 14th annual Rocky Mountain Workshop on Evidence-Based Health Care, held last week in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It was the most intensive training in the evaluation of evidence that I’ve participated in. The organizers planned excellent plenary sessions on topics such as bias in research and making policy decisions based on research. And for several hours each day, participants broke up into small group sessions. I was assigned to a lively group:
There was no time during that week to blog or assign story reviews, but here are some of the pearls I wanted to draw attention to from a busy week on health and health care issues in the media:
The rate of early prostate cancers among older Americans dropped suddenly following a change in screening advice from government-backed experts in 2008, new research shows.
The findings are another sign that the tide could be turning against routine prostate cancer screening, which a growing number of medical groups worry could do more harm than good. …
The Archives of Internal Medicine, which published (the) results, welcomed the findings in a note entitled “Time to Stop Screening for Prostate Cancer.”
“Given that the harms of screening… outweigh the benefits for younger men as well,” editor Dr. Mitchell Katz wrote, “we hope to see a similar decrease in early prostate cancer incidence in young men.”
Would constant checking for disease be reassuring, or would it interfere with the actual business of living? The empowerment of patients with information, where possible from appropriate physical tests, is to be encouraged: but striving after a technology-driven, purely biomedical model of perfect physical health is no form of empowerment at all.
While a greater number of physicians in more diverse settings are now engaged in pharmaceutical research than were 20 years ago, our data have potentially troubling implications for drug development. We found that the private-sector physicians interviewed identify primarily with the business rather than the science of contract research. In addition, our findings indicate that the private-sector PIs aligned their sense of research ethics with industry—ensuring the responsible conduct of research—rather than foregrounding the interests of research participants. Because these private-sector PIs are largely motivated by financial gain as opposed to making a contribution to science, we suggest that the professional identity of private-sector PIs may inadvertently offer pharmaceutical companies the ability to exert more control over their proprietary information and clinical trial data.