According to chiropractic belief, vertebral subluxation (VS) is a clinical entity defined as a misalignment of the spine affecting biomechanical and neurological function. The identification and correction of VS is the primary focus of the chiropractic profession. The purpose of this study was to estimate VS prevalence using a sample of individuals presenting for chiropractic care and explore the preventative public health implications of VS through the promotion of overall health and function.
A brief review of the literature was conducted to support an operational definition for VS that incorporated neurologic and kinesiologic exam components. A retrospective, quantitative analysis of a multi-clinic dataset was then performed using this operational definition.
The operational definition used in this study included:
- (1) inflammation of the C2 (second cervical vertebra) DRG,
- (2) leg length inequality,
- (3) tautness of the erector spinae muscles,
- (4) upper extremity muscle weakness,
- (5) Fakuda Step test,
- radiographic analysis based on the (6) frontal atlas cranium line and (7) horizontal atlas cranium line.
Descriptive statistics on patient demographic data included age, gender, and past health history characteristics. In addition to calculating estimates of the overall prevalence of VS, age- and gender-stratified estimates in the different clinics were calculated to allow for potential variations.
A total of 1,851 patient records from seven chiropractic clinics in four states were obtained. The mean age of patients was 43.48 (SD = 16.8, range = 18-91 years). There were more females (n = 927, 64.6%) than males who presented for chiropractic care. Patients reported various reasons for seeking chiropractic care, including, spinal or extremity pain, numbness, or tingling; headaches; ear, nose, and throat-related issues; or visceral issues. Mental health concerns, neurocognitive issues, and concerns about general health were also noted as reasons for care. The overall prevalence of VS was 78.55% (95% CI = 76.68-80.42). Female and male prevalence of VS was 77.17% and 80.15%, respectively; notably, all per-clinic, age, or gender-stratified prevalences were ≥50%.
The authors concluded that the results of this study suggest a high rate of prevalence of VS in a sample of individuals who sought chiropractic care. Concerns about general health and wellness were represented in the sample and suggest chiropractic may serve a primary prevention function in the absence of disease or injury. Further investigation into the epidemiology of VS and its role in health promotion and prevention is recommended.
This is one of the most hilarious pieces of ‘research’ that I have recently encountered. The strategy is siarmingly simple:
- invent a ficticious pathology (VS) that will earn you plently of money;
- develop criteria that allow you to diagnose this pathology in the maximum amount of consumers;
- show gullible consumers that they are afflicted by this pathology;
- use scare mongering tactics to convince consumers that the pathology needs treating;
- offer a treatment that, after a series of expensive sessions, will address the pathology;
- cash in regularly while this goes on;
- when the consumer has paid enough, declare that your fabulous treatment has done the trick and the consumer is again healthy.
The strategy is well known amongst practitioners of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), e.g.:
- Traditional acupuncturists diagnose a ficticious imbalance of yin and yang only to normalise it with numerous acupuncture sessions.
- Naturopaths diagnose ficticious intoxications and treat it with various detox measures.
- Iridologists diagnose ficticious abnormalities of the iris that allegedly indicate organ disstress and treat it with whatever SCAM they can offer.
As they say:
No disease can be more surely, effectively, and profitably treated than a condition that the unsuspecting customer did not have in the first place!
Sadly, such behavior exists in convertional medicine occasionally too, but SCAM relies almost entirely on it.
I was alerted to a new book entitled “Handbook of Space Pharmaceuticals“. It contains a chapter on “Homeopathy as a Therapeutic Option in Space” (yes, I am not kidding!). Here is its abstract (the numbers were inserted by me and refer to the short comments below):
Homeopathy is one of the largest used unorthodox medicinal systems having a wide number of principles and logic to treat and cure various diseases . Many successful concepts like severe dilution to high agitation have been applied in the homeopathic system . Though many concepts like different treatment for same diseases and many more are contradictory to the allopathic system , homeopathy has proved its worth in decreasing drug-related side effects in many arenas . Various treatments and researches are carried out on various diseases; mostly homeopathic treatment is used in joint diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer, and gastrointestinal tract diseases . In this chapter, readers will have a brief idea about many meta-analysis results of most common respiratory diseases, i.e., asthma, incurable hypertension condition, rheumatoid arthritis, and diarrhea and a megareview of all the diseases to see their unwanted effects, uses of drugs, concepts, and issues related to homeopathy . Various limitations of homeopathic treatments are also highlighted which can give a clear idea about the future scope of research . Overall, it can be concluded that placebo and homeopathic treatments give almost the same effect , but the less severe side effects of homeopathic drugs in comparison to all other treatment groups catch great attention .
Apart from the very poor English of the text and the fact that it has as good as nothing to do with the subject of ‘Homeopathy as a Therapeutic Option in Space’, I have the following brief comments:
- I did not know that homeopathy has ‘a wide number of logic’ and had alwas assumed that there is only one logic.
- Successful concepts? Really?
- So, homeopaths believe that the ‘allopathic system’ treats the same diseases uniformly? In this case, they should perhaps read up what conventional medicine really does.
- I am not aware of good evidence showing that homeopathy reduces drug related adverse effects.
- No, homeopathy is used for all symptoms – Hahnemann did not believe in treating disease entities – and mostly for those that are self-limiting.
- I love the term ‘incurable hypertension condition’; can somebody please explain what it is?
- The main limitation is that homeopathy is nonsense and, as such, does not really require further research.
- Not ‘almost’ but ‘exactly’! But thanks for pointing it out.
- Wishful thinking and not true. Firstly, the author forgot about ‘homeopathic aggravations’ in which homeopaths so strongly believe. Secondly, I know of many non-homeopathic treatments that are free of adverse effects when done properly.
Altogether, I am as disappointed by this article as you must be: we were probably all hoping to hear about the discovery showing that homeopathy works splendidly in space – not least because we have known for a while that homeopaths seem to be from a different planet.
The British doctor and outspoken anti-vaxer Aseem Malhotra has featured several times on this blog, e.g.:
- UK Cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra receives a well-deserved award
- Dr Aseem Malhotra and Dr Steven James: candour and complacency
Now, there has been a potentially important new development in his story. The Good Law Project recently announced the following:
During the pandemic, we depended on doctors telling us how we could protect ourselves and our loved ones. We trusted their advice would be based on the most reliable and up-to-date research.
But when the British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra went on television, or posted to his hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, he repeatedly claimed the vaccine was ineffective and posed a greater threat than Covid, causing “horrific unprecedented harms including sudden cardiac death” – suggestions refuted by medical experts and branded false by factcheckers.
The General Medical Council is responsible for regulating doctors in the UK and investigating those whose conduct falls short of the required standards. Despite the clear risk to public health of vaccine misinformation, it has so far refused to launch an investigation into Malhotra’s public pronouncements, originally saying that they “don’t consider that the comments or posts made by the doctor call his fitness to practice into question…” and subsequently upholding that decision after a number of doctors challenged it.
Good Law Project is supporting a doctor who is taking the regulator to the High Court over their failure to investigate whether Malhotra has breached standards. The judicial review has now been given permission to proceed by the High Court, which held that it raises an “issue of general public importance” as to how the GMC exercises its functions.
According to the claimant, Dr Matt Kneale, medical professionals “should not be using their professional status to promote harmful misinformation”.
“When doctors repeatedly say things that are incorrect, misleading and put people’s health at risk – for example by encouraging them to refuse a vaccine – the GMC must hold them to account,” Kneale said.
For the Good Law Project Executive Director, Jo Maugham, the regulator’s failure to investigate doctors spreading misinformation forms part of a wider pattern.
“What we have learned from both the pandemic inquiry and the calamitous economic consequences of Brexit,” Maugham explained, “is quite how serious are the consequences of deciding, as Michael Gove did, that we have ‘had enough of experts’.”
The council may prefer to avoid becoming embroiled in a controversy over free speech, he continued, but “its primary obligation is to protect the public – and it’s really hard to see how its stance delivers on that objective.”
Dr Malhotra is far from the only proponent of vaccine misinformation in the UK. Open Democracy revealed that anti-lockdown MPs, including Tufton Street’s Steve Baker, took large donations from a secretive group called The Recovery Alliance, which has been linked with a fake grassroots organisation that campaigned against the vaccine.
We’re working to stop misinformation from going unchallenged, and to make sure that regulators like the General Medical Council hold dangerous doctors who make unfounded claims accountable.
By helping to fund this case, you’ll be fighting for trust in the medical profession and to make sure public safety is doctors’ first priority. Any support you can give will help us make positive change.
The ‘Good Law Project’?
Who are they?
Good Law Project is a not for profit campaign organisation that uses the law for a better world. We know that the law, in the right hands, can be a fair and decent force for good. It is a practical tool for positive change and can make amazing things happen. We are proud to be primarily funded by members of the public, which keeps us fiercely independent. We want to inspire hope in difficult times by showing that you can make a difference, with the backing of good law. Our mission is to use the law to hold power to account, protect the environment, and ensure no one is left behind. You can learn more about our organisation and achievements in 2022-23 in our annual report.
You might even decide to support this splendid organization!
I hope you do.
We have discussed the homeopathic obscession with bovine mastitis before. For instance, we have looked at this systematic review which did exactly that. Its authors are highly respected and come from institutions that are not likely to promote bogus claims:
- Département de Sciences Cliniques, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, Canada
- Département de Sciences Cliniques, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, Canada
- Canadian Bovine Mastitis and Milk Quality Research Network, Canada
- Canadian Bovine Mastitis and Milk Quality Research Network, Canada
- Sherbrooke Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
- Canadian Bovine Mastitis and Milk Quality Research Network, Canada
- Département de Pathologie et Microbiologie, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montreal, Canada.
A total of 2,451 manuscripts were first identified and 39 manuscripts corresponding to 41 studies were included. Among these, 22 were clinical trials, 18 were experimental studies, and one was an observational study. The treatments evaluated were conventional anti-inflammatory drugs (n = 14), oxytocin with or without frequent milk out (n = 5), biologics (n = 9), homeopathy (n = 5), botanicals (n = 4), probiotics (n = 2), and other alternative products (n = 2). All trials had at least one unclear or high risk of bias. Most trials (n = 13) did not observe significant differences in clinical or bacteriological cure rates in comparison with negative or positive controls. Few studies evaluated the effect of treatment on milk yield. In general, the power of the different studies was very low, thus precluding conclusions on non-inferiority or non-superiority of the treatments investigated. No evidence-based recommendations could be given for the use of an alternative or non-antimicrobial conventional treatment for clinical mastitis. The authors concluded that homeopathic treatments are not efficient for management of clinical mastitis.
Did this finally stop homeopaths from claiming that their placebos work for mastitis?
I would not count on it!
Will it stop homeopaths to conduct trials of the subject?
Recently a new study has emerged. Its aim was to assess the potential of a novel homeopathic complex medicine in managing bovine mastitis. Twenty-four lactating Holstein cows with mastitis were divided into two groups: the homeopathic complex group received a homeopathic complex daily for 60 days at a dose of 20 g/d; the placebo group received the calcium carbonate vehicle without homeopathic medicines at the same dose and repetition. The main outcome measure was somatic cell count (SCC; cells/mL), with additional outcome measures including milk production (kg/d), milk constituents (percentage of protein, fat, lactose and total milk solids), and serum levels of cortisol, glucose, ammonia and lactic acid. All outcomes were measured at the beginning of the study and after 30 and 60 days. Milk samples were also collected from all animals at the beginning of the study, confirming a high (>0.2) MAR index for isolated bacterial cultures.
Assessment of SCC showed a statistically significant difference favoring the homeopathic complex versus placebo group at day 60. A reduction in serum cortisol levels and an increase in fat, lactose and total milk solids in animals treated with the homeopathic complex at day 60 were also seen. Other outcome measures did not show statistically significant inter-group differences.
The authors from the Paranaense University-Praça Mascarenhas de Moraes, Umuarama, Paraná, Brazil, concluded that the results of this non-randomized, open-label, placebo-controlled trial suggest the potential for a novel homeopathic complex medicine in management of multiple antibiotic-resistant bovine mastitis, thus offering dairy farmers an additional option to antibiotics and making dairy products safer for consumer health and milk production more sustainable.
Here are just some of the most obvious points of concern:
- The trial was supported by the manufacturer of the homeopathic product, yet the authors declare no conflicts of interest.
- The exact nature of the product remains unknown to anyone like me who tried to obtain the information by searching the websites of the manufacturer, etc.
- The trial was non-ramdomized and open label, i.e. wide open to bias, yet the authors do not shy away from drawing firm conclusions.
- There is no plausible rationale for homeopathy in this (or any other) indication.
- Homeopathy for animals contradicts the gospel of Hahnemann, its inventor.
- Overwhelmingly, the evidence fails to show that homeopathy is effective for bovine mastitis.
I do understand that manufacturers smell a lucrative market, but I still think that, for serious veterianarians, scientists, journal editors, etc., the subject should be closed.
The utilization of certain forms of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) is prevalent among adults. While researchers have extensively studied the factors influencing SCAM use in Western countries, significant barriers to its adoption remain. This paper draws attention to the obstacles faced by individuals in their journey to using SCAM.
Qualitative interviews were conducted with 21 patients who had turned to SCAM for managing a chronic illness/condition and had been chosen through a ‘snowball sampling’ strategy. These in-depth, face-to-face interviews occurred in Miami, USA, during 2014-15. The sampling, data collection, and analysis processes of this study adhered to the principles outlined in Charmaz’s constructivist grounded theory approach.
From the data, three central barriers to SCAM utilization in the US emerged: 1) Financial barriers: A significant portion of SCAM treatments is not covered by insurance, making them cost-prohibitive for many. 2) Skepticism and discouragement: Both conventional medical practitioners and a segment of the public exhibited a noticeable trend towards discouraging SCAM use. 3) Evaluation challenges: Patients expressed difficulty in assessing the efficacy and benefits of various SCAM treatments compared to their costs.
The author concluded that despite the widespread interest in and use of SCAM in the US, numerous barriers hinder its broader integration into mainstream healthcare. These obstacles not only restrict healthcare choices for the general public but also appear to favor a select demographic, potentially based on income and availability of information.
So, 21 individuals chosen via a snowball sampling strategy located in Miami feel that there were obstacles to using SCAM.
These obstacles existed about 10 myears ago.
The obstacles only existed in the imagination of these 21 guys.
The alleged obstacles are hardly relevant and therefore are not truly obstacles.
The only truly relevant obstacle to SCAM-use is the fact that most SCAMs have either not been shown to work, or shown not to work!
Perhaps surprisingly, the author concedes that their study has certain limitations: “This study had some inherent limitations. The sample, while chosen based on theoretical sampling to achieve theoretical saturation, was both small and self-selected. This limits the broad applicability of the findings. Moreover, individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds were not represented in the sample, which may have overlooked important perspectives on affordable SCAM options. The sample did not offer a detailed exploration of SCAM perceptions across diverse demographic categories, such as social class or ethnicity. It’s also essential to highlight that this research was conducted exclusively in Miami, a city with a significant population of ethnic minorities in the US. This demographic context could have uniquely influenced the feedback from SCAM users.”
If I may, I will another limitation: This study was utter nonsense from its conception to its publication!
You might think that all of this is quite trivial and that I am rather petty. If you look into Medline and realize how many such useless and counter-productive SCAM studies are being published, you might change your mind.
If you assumed that the best management of a child by chiropractors is not to treat this patient and refer to a proper doctor, think again. This paper was aimed at building upon existing recommendations on best practices for chiropractic management of children by conducting a formal consensus process and best evidence synthesis. Its authors composed a best practice guide based on recommendations from current best available evidence and formal consensus of a panel of experienced practitioners, consumers, and experts for chiropractic management of pediatric patients. They thus syntheized results of a literature search to inform the development of recommendations from a multidisciplinary steering committee, including experts in pediatrics, followed by a formal Delphi panel consensus process.
The consensus process was conducted June to August 2022. All 60 panelists completed the process and reached at least 80% consensus on all recommendations after three Delphi rounds. Recommendations for best practices for chiropractic care for children addressed the following aspects of the clinical encounter:
- patient communication, including informed consent;
- appropriate clinical history, including health habits;
- appropriate physical examination procedures;
- red flags/contraindications to chiropractic care and/or spinal manipulation;
- aspects of chiropractic management of pediatric patients, including infants;
- modifications of spinal manipulation and other manual procedures for pediatric patients;
- appropriate referral and comanagement;
- appropriate health promotion and disease prevention practices.
The authors concluded that this set of recommendations represents a general framework for an evidence-informed and reasonable approach to the management of pediatric patients by chiropractors.
Whenever I read the term ‘evidence-informed’ I need to giggle. Why not evidence-based? Evidence-informed might mean that chiros are informed that their treatments are useless or even dangerous for children … but, on reflection and taking their own need for earning a living, they subsequently ignore these facts. And sure enough, the authors of the present paper do mention that a Cochrane review concluded that spinal manipulation is not recommended for children under 12, for a number of conditions, or for general wellness … only to then go on and ignore the very fact.
In doing so, the authors issue a string of self-evident platitudes which occasionally border on the irresponsible. For instance, under the heading of ‘primary prevention’, vaccinations are mentioned as the very last item with the following words:
If parents ask for advice or information about childhood vaccinations, explain that they have the right to make their own health decisions. They should be adequately informed about the benefits and risks to both their child and the broader community associated with these decisions. Consider referral to a health professional whose scope of practice includes vaccinations to address patient questions or concerns.
What that really means in practice, I fear, might be summarized like this: If parents ask for advice or information about childhood vaccinations, explain that they are dangerous, and that even D. D. Palmer recognized as early as 1894 that vaccination is ‘…the monstrous delusion … fastened on us by the medical profession, enforced by the state boards, and supported by the mass of unthinking people …’
Altogether, the ‘Clinical Practice Guideline for Best Practice Management of Pediatric Patients by Chiropractors’ is a thoroughly disreputable document. It was constructed in the way all charlatans tend to construct their consensus documents:
- convene a few people who are all in favour of a certain motion,
- discuss the motion,
- agree with it,
- write up the process
- publish your paper in a third class journal,
- boast that there is a consensus,
- stress that the motion must thereefore be ethical, correct and valuable.
Do chiropractors know that, using this methodology, the ‘flat earth society’ can easily pass a consensus that the earth is indeed flat?
I am sure they do!
‘The Cult of Chiropractic’ is the title of a video that has just been released. I think it is very good and, if you are interested in the subject at all, I recommend you have a look. You can watch it here:
The video is not just well-done, it also is fun and informative. I learned a few things from it that I did not yet know. It also brings Simon Singh and myself together after we had not met for several years; and that is always a pleasure!
But back to ‘The Cult of Chiropractic’ and the question whether this assumption is true. Some time ago, I published a post about so-called alternative medicine and cultism. I listed a few questions we should ask ourselves to determine whether chiropractic is a cult. Let me adapt them slightly:
- Is chiropractic based on dogma? The answer is yes – think, for instance, of the assumptions that subluxations exist.
- Does chiropractic demand acceptance of its dogma or doctrine as truth? For straight chiropractors, the answer is yes.
- Is the dogma set forth by a single guru or promulgator? Yes, DD Palmer.
- Is chiropractic supposed to cure all ills? For many chiros, the answer is yes.
- Is belief used by chiropractors as a substitute for evidence? Yes.
- Do chiropractors determine their patients’ lifestyle? Yes.
- Do chiros exploit their patients financially? Yes.
- Does chiropractors impose rigid rules and regulations? Yes.
- Do chiros practice deception? Yes.
- Do chiropractors have their own sources of information/propaganda? Yes.
- Do chiros cultivate their own lingo? Yes.
- Do chiros discourage or inhibit critical thinking? Yes.
- Are questions about the values of chiropractic discouraged or forbidden? Yes.
- Do the proponents of chiropractic reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words? Yes
- Do chiros assume that health problems are the result of not adhering to the dogma? Yes.
- Do chiros instill fear into members who consider leaving? Yes.
- Do chiros depict conventional medicine as ineffective or harmful? Yes.
- Do chiros ask others to recruit new members to their cult? Yes.
Based on these 18 questions, I conclude that chiropractic is indeed a cult. What about you? Even if you disagree, please have a look at the excellent video, ‘THE CULT OF CHIROPRACTIC’.
Mistletoe, an anthroposophical medicine, is often recommended as a so-callled alternative medicine (SCAM) for cancer patients. But what type of cancer, what type of mistletoe preparation, what dosage regimen, what form of application?
The aim of this systematic analysis was to assess the concept of mistletoe treatment in published clinical studies with respect to indication, type of mistletoe preparation, treatment schedule, aim of treatment, and assessment of treatment results. The following databases were systematically searched: Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), PsycINFO, CINAHL, and “Science Citation Index Expanded” (Web of Science). The researchers assessed all studies for study types, methods, endpoints and mistletoe preparations including their ways of application, host trees and dosage schedules.
The searches revealed 3296 hits. Of these, 102 publications with a total of 19.441 patients were included. The researchers included several study types investigating the application of mistletoe in different groups of participants: cancer patients with any type of cancer were included as well as studies conducted with healthy volunteers and pediatric patients. The most common types of cancer were:
- breast cancer,
- pancreatic cancer,
- colorectal cancer,
- malignant melanoma.
Randomized controlled studies, cohort studies and case reports make up most of the included studies. A huge variety was observed concerning the type and composition of mistletoe extracts (differing pharmaceutical companies and host trees), ways of applications and dosage schedules. Administration varied widely, e. g. between using mistletoe extract as sole treatment and as concomitant therapy to cancer treatment. The researchers found no relationship between the mistletoe preparation used, host tree, dosage, and cancer type.
A variety of different mistletoe preparations was used to treat cancer patients. Due to the heterogeneity of the mistletoe preparations used, no comparability between different studies or within single studies using different types of mistletoe preparations or host trees is possible. Moreover, no relationship between mistletoe preparation and type of cancer can be observed. This results in a severely limited comparability of studies with regard to the different cancer entities and mistletoe therapy in oncology in general. Analyzing the methods sections of all articles, there are no information on how the selection of the respective mistletoe preparation took place. None of the articles provided any argument which type of preparation (homeopathic, anthroposophic, standardized) or which host tree was chosen due to which selection criteria. Considering preparations from different companies, funding may have been the reason of the selection.
Dosage or dosage regimens varied strongly in the studies. Due to the heterogeneity of dosage and dosage regimens within studies and between studies of the endpoints the comparability of the different studies is severely limited. Duration of mistletoe treatment varied strongly in the studies ranging from a single dose given on one day to the application of mistletoe preparations for several years. Moreover, the duration of treatment frequently varied within the studies. Mistletoe preparations were administered by different ways of application. Most frequently, the patients received mistletoe preparations subcutaneously. The second most common way was intravenous administration of mistletoe preparations. According to the respective manufacturers, this type of application is only recommended for Lektinol® and Eurixor®. Other preparations were given as off-label intravenous applications. No dosage recommendations from the respective manufacturers were available. Only in two studies the dose schedules were mentioned: according to the classical phase I 3 + 3 dose escalation schedule or in ratio to the body surface area.
The authors concluded that despite a large number of clinical studies and reports, there is a complete lack of transparently reported, structured procedures considering all fields of mistletoe therapy. This applies to type of mistletoe extract, host tree, preparation, treatment schedules as well as indication with respect of type of cancer and the respective treatment aim. All in all, despite several decades of clinical mistletoe research, no clear concept of usage is discernible and, from an evidence-based point of view, there are serious concerns on the scientific base of this part of anthroposophical treatment.
A long time ago, I worked as a junior doctor in a hospital where we used subcutaneous misteloe injections regularly to treat cancer. I remember being utterly confused: none of my peers was able to explain to me what preparation to use and how to does it. There simply were no rules and the manufacurer’s instructions made little sense. I suspected then that mistletoe therapy was a danerous nonsense. Today, after much research has been published on mistletoe, I do no longer suspect it, I know it.
I would urge every cancer patient to stay well clear of mistletoe and those practitioners who recommend it.
Here we go, enjoy!
Robert Jütte, a German medical historian, has long been a defender of homeopathy and other forms of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). His latest paper refers to the situation in Switzerland where the public was given the chance to vote for or against the reimbursement of several SCAMs, including homeopathy. I reported previously about this unusual situation, e.g.:
- More about homeopathy in Switzerland: “Globuli only cause unnecessary healthcare costs”
- More on the situation of homeopathy in Switzerland
- SCAM in Switzerland: paediatricians couldn’t care less
- It’s official: Switzerland is going holistically round the bend
Unsurprisingly, Prof Jütte’s views are quite different from mine. Here is the abstract of his recent paper:
Behind the principle of involving users and voters directly in decision-making about the health care system are ideas relating to empowerment. This implies a challenge to the traditional view that scientific knowledge is generally believed to be of higher value than tried and tested experience, as it is the case with CAM. The aim of this review is to show how a perspective of the history of medicine and science as well as direct democracy mechanisms such as stipulated in the Swiss constitution can be used to achieve the acceptance of CAM in a modern medical health care system. A public health care system financed by levies from the population should also reflect the widely documented desire in the population for medical pluralism (provided that therapeutical alternatives are not risky). Otherwise, the problem of social inequality arises because only people with a good financial background can afford this medicine.
I think that Jütte’s statement that “a public health care system financed by levies from the population should also reflect the widely documented desire in the population for medical pluralism provided that therapeutical alternatives are not risky. Otherwise, the problem of social inequality arises because only people with a good financial background can afford this medicine” is untenable. Here are my reasons:
- Lay people are not normally sufficiently informed to decide which treatments are effective and which are not. If we leave these decisions to the public, we will end up with all manner of nonsense diluting the effectiveness of our health services and wasting our scarce public funds.
- Jütte seems to assume that SCAMs that are not risky do no harm. He fails to consider that ineffective treatments inevitably do harm by not adequately treating symptoms and diseases. In serious conditions this will even hasten the death of patients!
- Jütte seems concerned about inequity, yet I think this concern is misplaced. Not paying from the public purse for nonsensical therapies is hardly a disadvantage. Arguably, those who cannot affort ineffective SCAMs are even likely to benefit in terms of their health.
I do realize that there might be conflicting ethical principles at play here. I am, however, convinced that the ethical concern of doing more good than harm to as many consumers as possible is best realized by implementing the principles of evidence-based medicine. Or – to put it bluntly – a healthcare system is not a supermarket where consumers can pick and chose any rubbish they fancy.
I wonder who you think is correct, Jütte or I?