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Book: Status quo trumps evidence in U.S. health care

A new book identifies forces that undermine evidence-based medicine in the US.

A new book argues that political incentives, doctors, and partisanship undermine evidence-based medicine in the United States.

In 2002, Eric Patashnik of Brown University came across a puzzling study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that a widely used surgical procedure for osteoarthritis of the knee worked no better than a sham procedure in which a surgeon merely pretended to operate.

Assuming that common medical treatments must rest on evidence of their effectiveness, Patashnik and colleagues Alan S. Gerber of Yale University and Conor M. Dowling of the University of Mississippi began to investigate why the procedure had become popular and how doctors responded to the landmark study. Over time, the researchers found that the knee surgery case is illustrative of broader problems in the US health care system and that treatments contradicted by evidence can remain the standard of care for decades.

In their new book Unhealthy Politics: The Battle over Evidence-Based Medicine (Princeton University Press, 2018), Patashnik and his coauthors look at how partisanship, political polarization, and medical authority stymie efforts to promote better, more efficient health care for Americans. The book draws on public opinion surveys, physician surveys, case studies, and political science models.

Here, Patashnik—a professor of public policy and political science who oversees Brown’s master of public affairs program—shares thoughts on evidence-based medicine and what roles doctors, politicians, and patients can and do play in this debate.

The post Book: Status quo trumps evidence in U.S. health care appeared first on Futurity.

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