nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Get Medical Advice From Patient Anecdotes? Some Are Made Up

I have friends and relatives who rely in part on what they read about medical care on the web.

The testimonial approach to medicine, emphasizing anecdotes, is the New Age health care decision-making.

An article on Kevin MD speaks to the uncertain origin of some of these patient stories.

Apparently, at least some "patient stories" are actually fictional accounts, and an expression of the author's need to express themselves creatively.  Others tell stories that are partially true, altering the truth where convenient or to make the storyteller look more noble.

More ominously, some are from businesses and advocacy groups who want to influence people to buy a product or support a cause.  A company called Lifestyle Lift had to pay a $300K settlement for using employees to generate fake patient stories.

Criminal fraud aside, you have to wonder what psychological mechanism is at work with people who need to invent a fantasy experience in order to validate their existence.  For those who create a bad medical experience, maybe there's a need to feel the victim, a resentment over perceived mistreatment at work, home, school, etc.  For those who tell great medical success stories, maybe there's a need to feel heroic, or especially worthy.

It's puzzling, because almost all of them, with a little effort, could make a difference, and have a reality-based sense of worth and respect.

Just my opinion, but now I need to get back to Pandora and help defend my friends the Na'vi against the evil human race.


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