hear it on the news practically every
evening "A new study shows..." "The
latest medical research..." "Exciting
new medical reports on..." Whether its
on the television, radio, in print or
online, the "latest medical news" gets
our attention. It has the potential
to be exciting news, such as hearing
about successful studies regarding our
illness. Or, sometimes the news isnt
good. We may hear that our medical condition
is more serious than we believed or
the medication we are taking more harmful
than we thought. But even if the news
is promising, exciting, and encouraging--what
then? Should we tell our doctors what
we have heard? And when we do, why do
they seem skeptical?
media loves a good story. With the increasing
interest in fitness and being your own
health advocate, the media knows that
youll pay attention to new study
results. Medical journalists are to
report factually correct information,
and generally, they do so reliably.
Many physicians, however, feel that
research results are often given to
the media with little regard to the
patients who are affected by their reports.
V. Johnson, M.D., Associate Medical
Editor of the Mayo Health Oasis says,
"Even when accurate, I'm often skeptical
that general medical news is helpful.
The controlled circumstances of a research
study give physicians a better understanding
of the course of an illness or its response
to treatment. It's often much more difficult
to decide the usefulness of this information
in practice and especially for an individual
often skeptical about claims of
cures," he says, "because
we've often been down that road
explains that when experienced physicians
are given the results of a particular
research study, they put it into context,
considering the value the information
may have to their patients.
its always a good idea to discuss
what you hear on the news with your
physician, be aware that oftentimes,
the media picks up the preliminary reports,
and the research in not yet complete.
People who are participating in the
study may be having desirable results;
however, its unlikely that your
physician can prescribe the treatment
many levels of research must be completed,
the results approved by the FDA, and
given FDA approval for distribution.
Physicians often even become frustrated
when they see these reports inspiring
hope in their patients, because they
are aware that is highly possible that
the research will prove to be fruitless
within time. "Though there are times
when the latest research changes our
practice quickly," says Johnson, " most
challenging medical problems require
a wait and see approach."
This can be frustrating for the patient
who is in pain and looking for answers.
a hopeful, yet questioning, approach
to new information about your medical
condition. Don't believe everything
you read or hear--the information
may be correct, but still misleading
if it doesn't pertain to your specific
your physician know about your concerns
and interests. Let a caregiver who
knows your circumstances counsel you
about when or whether to pursue a
new treatment or investigation. Sometimes
this means you'll wait; sometimes
it means you'll check it out carefully.
Work it out together.
research--it's essential for progress.
Encourage your physician to share
experiences with colleagues and include
your health information in research
for the benefit of other patients.
a free download of 200 ways to reach out to
someone who is hurting from Beyond
Caseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically
Ill Friend when you sign up for hopenotes,
a monthly ezine. Author of this article, Lisa
Copen is also the founder of Rest
Ministries and National
Invisible Illness Awareness Week.