Many people buy a car (probably their single biggest discretionary purchase) based on slamming a door, kicking a tire and judging the handshake of a salesperson.
We choose a surgeon based on the carpeting in his office and a politician by his hair cut.
During the first week of swine flu vaccines in New York, most parents (more than half!) chose to keep their kids out of the program.
Interviewed parents said things like, “I’m not sure it’s safe,” and “I wanted to see if it affected other kids…”
No mention of longitudinal studies or long-term side effects. No science at all, really, just rumors and hunches and gut instincts.
Great post from Seth’s blog.
In his post he distinguishes between scientific evidence which is (hopefully) objective, and the *amateur scientist* who is typically swayed by anecdotes.
Health care decision making is sooooo complex… we all (docs and patients alike) incorporate scientific evidence, anecdote, and our judgment (professional or otherwise) into the decision making process… Complicating it further, our judgment and interpretation of the science is influenced by many variables as well.
Perhaps that’s why he concludes — “that people have added a veneer of scientific rationality to their irrational decision(s)”— and somehow that rationale *empowers* the masses in their decision making.
Maybe I’m wrong… but clinical decision making is far from a perfect science and we all still have a lot to learn….