Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Tag: church & commerce

Less is More

#Less is More is an adage I’ve come to believe more and more of in medicine.NPR_logo

I’ve written about the issue before, but just up on NPR’s Shots blog is my latest on commercial, direct-to-consumer screening tests. I don’t have a problem with the tests themselves, but I don’t like that they’re done in churches where people are unduly influenced to have them done; I also don’t like that “customers” are encouraged to have these done when they don’t need to (i.e. aren’t at risk). The company denies that it does that, but anecdotal experience suggests otherwise.

Once again, blessed to have stunning collage art by Katherine Streeter.

Post by NPR.

Churchin’ Up

"You get wise! You go to church!"

You may have seen advertisements in your local paper (do you still get one of those?) or in your [junk] mail offering you health screening tests at discount prices.

  • No doctor’s order necessary!
  • Submit to all five tests  and get discount pricing!

You can take the handy-dandy results issued from these purveyors and head right over to your local doc’s office to discuss any findings. These companies want to help you (and your doctor), after all.

In their promotional materials and on their websites, these for-profit outfits offer testimonials from happy customers that screening tests “saved their lives.”

What you won’t hear from the companies is that the best medical evidence that we have would caution patients AGAINST having these tests–because the science says they don’t save lives and aren’t indicated for people in the general population. In aggregate, tests like these cause MORE HARM than GOOD.

The companies also won’t tell you that if you have one of these tests and it’s not totally normal that you’ll now be subject to repeat testing (presumably by your real doctor inside the medical system) ad nauseum and untold anxiety that you’re slightly less than perfect. That’s an example of HARM.

What I find particularly galling about these companies is that they target lambs er, people where they are most vulnerable: at their places of worship.

Who, after all, would question the well-intentioned offering of preventive health screenings (albeit for profit-making fees) at church?

Seems like a win-win: Your clergy person thinks s/he is doing a mitzvah offering a resource to the community. The doctors in the congregation, loathe to upset the apple cart, would never want to dissuade their brethren from taking health seriously. [That, and they may have some financial interest in such an arrangement.] The congregants get “health” without having to go their doctor.

Convenience. For a price.

You can read a more scholarly discussion of this phenomenon here [local paper! I still get one!]. Then the ripple rolls out a little further.

Please comment or email here if you’ve had screenings from one of these companies or worked for one. I’d love to know about your experiences.


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