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Unintentional status quo

Posted Jun 02 2010 3:42pm
My friend, Colleen, shared a great story with me recently by email
“Why do professionals ignore clear evidence and cling to old ideas that weren't that effective? Because they are people and people resist change, even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary--and especially when they have invested their life's work in doing things this way.

There are parallels to what we are doing in other areas. Our pastor (Paul Freese) opened a recent sermon with a question: "What causes ulcers?" Congregation: "Stress!" Pastor: "And how do you cure ulcers?" Congregation: "Reduce stress!" "Reduce stomach acid!"

He continued: "It's been 27 years--a generation--since two Australian doctors accidentally discovered that it's actually caused by bacteria," and went on to tell the story of Drs. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, who first isolated H. pylori (great article) . For two years, no one took them seriously. In frustration, Dr. Marshall swallowed a petri dish of H. pylori, got sick, took antibiotics, got well. Finally they got published. These drs had a whole new paradigm for ulcer etiology and treatment--and faced a lot of resistance. Even with proof, no one wanted to change. And this is such a clear-cut, replicable scientific phenomenon!!

While the pharmaceutical industry resisted hugely at first (who doesn't love a lifetime prescription for one of their little moneymakers like Tagamet or Zantac?), they also held the key to the cure. And they have armies of drug reps that talk to all the drs, everywhere. Having a profit motive makes it much easier to change the status quo.

Unfortunately for EDs, we don't have a magic pill. Don't have armies of drug reps fanning out, spreading the word, leaving samples, advertising about their great product, posting warning signs.

The point: A generation! 27 years! And the common wisdom has still not caught up with proven science. At least drs are more clued in about prescribing antibiotics--people are being treated.

I don't mean for this to be discouraging. Just to underline human nature. I think the professionals who cling to Old School ideas are well-meaning, caring people, and to ask them to reconsider ED etiology and their treatment model means also asking them to live with the idea that they have actually done evil--that they have harmed their clients and their clients' families. That would be hard to live with, even if it were unintentional.

We need to focus on educating existing professionals, for sure, but I think we especially need to focus on YOUNG professionals--we need to make sure that the doctors and therapists who are being educated now are getting the right information. What can we do to get this information into the hands of the professionals who are educating the professionals?

Way more than two cents...sorry.”
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