More on news organizations promoting unnecessary testing

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A physician who teaches evidence-based medicine, and who is also a freelance health journalist, has been reading my thoughts about journalists advocating screening tests in the absence of evidence.

She wrote me: “Here’s one of the more annoying recent examples, one that I actually used in class to illustrate the issue of patients coming in and requesting specific tests based on what they read in the newspaper.”

So I’m adding Parade Magazine to my list of offenders.

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jim jaffe

March 5, 2008 at 9:52 am

what’s the beef? we want patients to interact with docs rather than being passive. The Parade piece says, “ask you doc” about these. It doesn’t say demand them. The doc can explain why test doesn’t seem worthwhile or appropriate. Had a similar exchange with my doc about something the WSJ was being hysterical about. She said she didn’t see need for text and explained why. that was fine with me.

The Publisher

March 5, 2008 at 10:22 am

Remember: this was submitted by a physician who teaches evidence-based medicine.
So I won’t answer for her, but my read is that:
A. Many physicians don’t want to use the limited face time they have with patients to go over media-hyped interventions that aren’t supported by evidence.
B. There is not convincing evidence for the interventions in question.
Also remember: 16% of the GDP is being spent on health care. Experts say much of it is on unproven technologies and interventions.
I’m not going to rehash the long discussion on this blog and elsewhere that gives the long background and rationale for being careful about promoting all tests to all populations. But it’s there for anyone to read.