“A New Study Shows…” is the kind of phrase that seems to proceed any new health finding in the media, in particular about serious issues, yet it is based on some questionable and insecure foundations.
We are so enamoured by the scientific era, and its application to medicine, that we have swallowed hook, line and sinker terms like “evidence-based medicine” and “double blind trials”.
Somehow these terms indicate proof that in areas like medicine, we then believe we are on sound and secure foundations, and the results of “studies” based on these sort of principles are then held to be automatically true… notwithstanding the somewhat cynical view that medicine is but a pseudoscience.
In our opinion some distortions have entered the realm of evidence-based medicine since its inception, and the concept has been taken up by the pharmaceutical industry with gusto. The fact that issues like the placebo effect have not gone away and seriously weaken the validity of any trialling process, also makes it dubious.
It is not that we dismiss science and the scientific method. It is just that the scientific approach to the art of medicine, health and healing, is but one component in the mix. It simply needs to be seen in conjunction with other approaches to and dimensions of health and healing, many of which we address here in HHG.
Of serious ethical concern to us is that it is a relatively frequent occurrence in the media to discuss a new drug – and these studies are usually about drugs – in serious illness, like cancer, and then at the end to say: “Further trials are needed and this medication may then be available to the public in 2 to 5 years.”
Notwithstanding the questionable reasoning for releasing and making public such information before availability, how would you feel if you had the disease in question and had a 6-month prognosis? It also seems rare to us that the promises indicated in such reports are ever fulfilled.
Don’t get us wrong; we are not against science in health. It is just that it has come to dominate the health fields, where a holistic approach also integrates social, psychological and spiritual dimensions to health when these are too often ignored. It also mays heed to the beliefs and values of the client in any management, as well as the importance of the therapeutic relationship.
Beyond that, we believe the whole paradigm (pattern or model) of health is changing fast and that such reliance on science is now becoming more relative in general and under question in specific areas, such as mental health.