Responding to Medicine’s Wellness Conundrum, by Jessica Wapner, New Yorker, November 6, 2021.

The medical establishment tends to look at alternative vs mainstream medicine as separate entities with clearly delineated boundaries. Mainstream medicine – the kind supported by insurance and taught in medical school – claims to be supported by scientific research.

The truth is, many medical practices are prescribed by MDs and reimbursed by insurance, even when published research shows those practices are useless at best and even potentially harmful.

Research shows little benefit of annual medical exams and many screening tests, including annual mammography.

Millions of dollars are spent on useless heart surgeries and procedures, yet doctors resist offering less lucrative medication options. More millions have been spent on studies, which doctors still ignore. This article sums up recent findings.

Hospitals require pre-op screenings for outpatient surgery requiring only a local anesthetic; some even require an EKG, although research shows – to EKGs for screening asymptomatic patients – not to mention an 80% false positive.

Research consistently shows no difference in outcomes between screened and unscreened patients for these surgeries. Yet insurance – including Medicare – happily pays millions for these useless procedures.

They may be worse than useless. False positives lead to more unnecessary, sometimes invasive procedures.

A large number of doctors don’t even bother with research. They go by guidelines, which can be heavily influenced by pharma companies and which certainly don’t apply across the board.

Psychological studies frequently rely on self-reports, which should be regarded with suspicion. A 2021 report revealed 51% of women in medicine reported feeling burned out compared to 36% of men. How do we know the result isn’t due to actual burnout, but the possibility that women are more comfortable admitting they are burned out?

Similarly, a lot of research reports older people feel “happier” than younger people. I always suspect a cohort effect; people in the old days were brought up to be positive and avoid complaining.