Thursday, June 01, 2006

Say we did have a Bird Flu vaccine

…Would you take it?

…A team from the Univ of Michigan Med School and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System gave 2400 people a questionnaire to see what they would do.

…As reported in the Journal of Internal Medicine, participants were divided into four groups. The first were asked to imagine themselves as the patient in two scenarios: taking an experimental vaccine against a deadly flu or chemo for a slow-growing cancer.

…Take the medicine or take their chances without it?

…The other three groups were given the same scenario but asked to answer from (1) the standpoint of a doctor advising a patient, (2) a parent deciding for a child, and (3) a medical director of a hospital deciding for many patients.

…Only 48% would take it for themselves.

…But 57% of those imaging themselves to be parents would give it to their child.

…63% of those acting as a doctor would advise it for their patients.

…And 73% o the medical director group would give it to a lot of patients.

…Much the same applied to the chemo scenario.

…In a reaction they call the “omission tendency,” people tend to avoid bringing immediate medical harm on themselves, even though waiting might be riskier.

…Doctors and medical directors tend to take more proactive risks. Action is more justifiable than doing nothing.

…Parents will “do anything” for a child.

…If do unto others is the Golden Rule, the docs said, maybe the Platinum Rule is make better decisions for other than for yourself.


Bill Thomasson said...

Personal situation makes a difference.

I haven't had flu since 1959. I suspect there's a reason: I've become immune to all strains. If there's anything to that suspicion, I don't need a flu shot. (I don't take the regular shot either. Save the dose for someone who needs it.)

I am just short of 70 years old and in good health for my age. If I were diagnosed with prostate cancer I would elect to have it treated. (Although the usual treatment is surgery and/or hormonal ablation [castration]. The question is misleading in that regard.) But it I were 7 or 8 years older or had a condition that stood a good chance of killing me in the next 10 years, I wouldn't.

The point is, though, that these decisions are based on my personal situation. They don't apply to people in other situations. And it's not obvious that the people doing the survey really took account of these factors. For example, I believe they asked people what they would advise if they were doctors, not what they would advise "someone like me" if they were a doctor.

Star said...

Good points---these things aren't cut and dried--like jerky. They are just snack food for the brain...