Henry Farrell, George Washington University associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, sat with one of the authors of “Unhealthy Politics: The Battle over Evidence-Based Medicine” to discuss some of the challenges facing the health care industry.
Eric Patashnik, Brown University professor and one of the book’s authors, said one of the major roadblocks in the current health care landscape has roots in how medical authorities react to unresponsive, and sometimes detrimental, treatments.
“Many Americans assume that treatments are based on sound evidence, and that when they are found not to work, they will quickly be abandoned,” Patashnik said. “In reality, treatments can diffuse into clinical practice before they are evaluated.”
Once a treatment is put into practice, Patashnik said it’s difficult to end it, “even if studies show it works less well than alternatives.”
Patashnik said evidence-based medicine has a fairly weak political constituency, and that despite its ability to assuage some of the public’s fears about health care, “doctors have not consistently led on this issue.”
“Many doctors support evidence-based medicine in the abstract, but bristle when studies question about the effectiveness of treatments in their practice areas,” he said.