Miller-McCune: ‘Existing Beliefs’ Can Stand In The Way Of Medical Research
After a scientist found that runners' widespread habit of using ibuprofen before long races didn't help them, and may even cause more inflammation than doing nothing, a group of runners presented with the evidence still said they would continue using the drug, reports Miller-McCune, a Santa Barbara-based public policy magazine. The researcher who conducted the study said, "They really, really think it's helping. Even in the face of data showing that it doesn't help, they still use it."
That reaction is not usual. "A surprising number of medical practices have never been rigorously tested to find out if they really work. Even where evidence points to the most effective treatment for a particular condition, the information is not always put into practice." But, the reticence to accept new ideas in medicine may be an obstacle for government officials who hope to spend billions of dollars on so-called comparative effectiveness research that would determine which treatments are most effective. "These efforts are bound to face resistance when they challenge existing beliefs" (Aschwanden, 4/20).