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Testing medical 'truths'

You might want to ask your doctor a few questions the next time he or she hands you a prescription. An interesting commentary in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association points out that many physicians prescribe treatments for which there is little or no evidence to support their use. Instead, the doctors are simply following long-established prescribing patterns and haven't checked to see whether there is solid evidence suggesting that the treatment will achieve the desired effect.

John Ioannidis, MD, director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, is the senior author of the commentary. Check out my Q&A with him, and read why he thinks doctors should "abandon ship" on treatments that aren't supported by strong evidence. He points out that "trust is likely to be strengthened when patients are more knowledgeable, when they question their physicians about the evidence pertaining to their condition and when physicians give them the full, unbiased picture about this evidence."

Previously: Convincing physicians to change their prescribing patterns

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