A little bit of research can be far more dangerous when taken out of context. “Research is complicated and, often, in boiling it down to a few easily digested sound bites, the full complexity and meaning of the information is lost in the media. It is worth remembering that
sometimes a little bit of knowledge can be far more dangerous than the
very crisis it concerns.”

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  • MedSleuth

    Wow, I couldn’t disagree more. After years of assisting individuals in becoming informed healthcare consumers and partnering with physicians in choosing diagnostic and treatment options, I firmly believe that in the age of 5-minute office visits patients must become informed on their own.

    Doctors have an opportunity to assist their patients in becoming informed by recommending ways to research reliable medical information, and it is a shame more doctors are not initiating these conversations on their own.

    While I agree that self-treating is dangerous, I have encountered hundreds of patients (including myself) who have benefited greatly from doing some research before going into the doctor’s office.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. This is especially true when you have a relatively rare condition with which most of the doctors are not very familiar – to the tune of not being able to diagnose in spite of years of complaints when there is a 100% accurate test (0 false positives/0 false negatives) available.

    The doctors know lot of stuff about a zillion conditions. Most of them are overeworked and don’t have time to follow all the recent research especially in the conditions that affect less than 5% of the population. Nor can they be expected to know about every drug’s side effects. But if you are a patient with one of these rare conditions, you need to realize that there is nobody in the world except for maybe your mother who is interested in your health as much as you do. So, it is perfectly possible that a patient can learn more than the doctor for one specific condition and the drugs that are given for this condition.
    Not all patients take one limited study and make conclusions based on it. Some of us are pretty thorough in looking at every relevant study, reading editorials and “rapid responses” to papers to see how other experts react to the particular research, as well as reading various doctors’ blogs commenting on a particular research.
    I agree that self-treating is dangerous, but some knowledge helps tremendously when you come to the doctor’s office. I wish I had done more of it in the past.