Thursday, September 5, 2013

A central dilemma

Reconsidering the Politics of Public Health

These are difficult times for public health regulators. JAMA highlights the issue:
A central dilemma in public health is reconciling the role of the individual with the role of the government in promoting health. On the one hand, governmental policy approaches—taxes, bans, and other regulations—are seen as emblematic of “nanny state” overreach. In this view, public health regulation is part of a slippery slope toward escalating government intrusion on individual liberty. On the other hand, regulatory policy is described as a fundamental instrument for a “savvy state” to combat the conditions underlying an inexorable epidemic of chronic diseases. Proponents of public health regulation cite the association of aggressive tobacco control, physical activity, and nutritional interventions with demonstrable increases in life expectancy
The article presents 5 ways towards a solution. The fifth says:
Physicians may bear particular responsibility in addressing the problem that psychologists call “hyperbolic discounting”— the human tendency to discount the value of future conditions bya factor that increases with the length of delay. Physicians bear witness to regrets about prior unhealthy choices in poignant moments— for example, the ex-smoker who wheezes in trying to keep up with grandchildren—and work to prevent other patients from experiencing avoidable fates.Perhaps physicians and other health professionals, as a result, have a special duty to weigh in on how society mitigates the social and environmental conditions that lead toward unhealthy choices
Wishful thinking again?.
Why should physicians bear such huge responsibility? "Nanny physicians"? What about citizens?. As you know, my focus is on shared decision making. Unfortunately the article doesn't mention it.

PS. What's goign on in Catalonia? Have a look at WSJ today. This is not a dilemma, it's a fact.

PS. Are you willing to pay 12.380€ for an additional survival of 36 days -progression free in breast cancer- ?. NICE considers that cost per QALY of Eribulin is 91.778 €. Are you willing to pay this cost? Forget the question,  there is no dilemma, the social insurance will pay it for you as from today. We are rich enough to afford it.

PS. If somebody wants to know how neuromarketing is being applied, have a look at the following documentary: "Don't think, just buy". Public health regulators can learn a lot from this experience to counter commercial efforts on junk foods and beverages.

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