Thursday, March 20, 2014

Medical Conspiracy Theories Can Affect Health Behavior

Nearly half of all Americans believe at least one medical conspiracy, according to JAMA Internal Medicine. Some of the more popular theories revolve around water fluoridation, cell phones, vaccines, or alternative medicine. Unfortunately, when patients buy into these conspiracies it can affect their health behavior.

The survey found Americans who believe in one or more medical conspiracies are more likely to take herbal supplements and avoid traditional medicine in favor of alternative medicine. They are also less likely to follow their doctor’s advice, especially when it comes to taking prescription medication and getting themselves and their children vaccinated. These behaviors have already affected public health, as vaccine-preventable diseases return from the brink of extinction ― deadly diseases like the measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), and chicken pox are on the rise, reports TIME.

Doctors say compassion and thoughtful conversations with patients help them counteract the trend of nonvaccination. “Physicians should communicate that the infectious diseases prevented by the vaccines are much worse than the risks associated with vaccines,” Carol J. Baker, MD, executive director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research, tells TMA’s Texas Medicine magazine.

Read more on the study at Reuters.

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