Med­i­cal sci­ence: pub­lic scep­ti­cal

The Star Early Edition - - HEALTH -

PA­TIENTS are more likely to trust ad­vice from friends about medicines than sci­en­tific re­search, ex­perts warn.

A sur­vey found that 63% of the pub­lic and 82% of GPs are scep­ti­cal of claims made by drugs tri­als.

Many have ma­jor doubts fol­low­ing a se­ries of scares over the safety of hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy, choles­terol-bust­ing statins and the an­tivi­ral drug Tam­i­flu.

The Academy of Med­i­cal Sci­ences, which car­ried out the poll, is call­ing for a ma­jor over­haul of the way pa­tients are told about drugs.

They want the NHS Choices web­site to pub­lish de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about the likely risks and side-ef­fects of the most com­mon treat­ments. In ad­di­tion, they are urg­ing GPs to hold longer ap­point­ments, par­tic­u­larly with older pa­tients, to dis­cuss any con­cerns.

In a re­port pub­lished to­day, the Academy sur­veyed 2 041 mem­bers of the pub­lic and 1 013 GPs about at­ti­tudes to­wards med­i­cal re­search. Just 37% of the pub­lic said they would trust ev­i­dence from med­i­cal re­search, while 65% would trust ex­pe­ri­ence from friends and fam­ily.

Sur­pris­ingly, 82% of GPs said they be­lieved med­i­cal re­search was bi­ased in favour of drugs ap­pear­ing ef­fec­tive and safe.

Au­thor Pro­fes­sor John Tooke, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the academy, said: “It’s star­tling to hear that only about a third of the pub­lic trust med­i­cal re­search.

“Pa­tients are strug­gling to make sense of the in­for­ma­tion they re­ceive from their doc­tor, the TV, the in­ter­net and their friends and fam­ily about medicines.

“With our age­ing pop­u­la­tion and ever more so­phis­ti­cated treat­ments be­ing made avail­able, we need to act now to give pa­tients clearer and more use­ful in­for­ma­tion about the medicines they take.”

He added: “We will only suc­ceed in mak­ing the most of the tremen­dous strides in med­i­cal sci­ence if we are also able to share knowl­edge ef­fec­tively with pa­tients to al­low them to make the best de­ci­sions about medicines.

Pro­fes­sor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer for Eng­land, said: “Med­i­cal sci­ence is pro­gress­ing at an un­prece­dented rate. It is vi­tal that we find the best ways to use and com­mu­ni­cate sci­en­tific ev­i­dence, so that progress may be trans­lated into ben­e­fits for pa­tients.” – Daily Mail

PIC­TURE: NIC BOTHMA/EPA

SAFE?: Most peo­ple are scep­ti­cal of med­i­cal sci­ence.

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