Prevention and the Science and Politics of Evidence

Diana B. Petitti

in Prevention vs. Treatment

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199837373
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919499 | DOI:
Prevention and the Science and Politics of Evidence

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Evidence and politics intersect in the delineation of policy about prevention. Historically, prevention has played a prominent role in defining the evidence-based medicine movement and creating evidence-based recommendations. Changes in prevention over time make it likely that prevention recommendations and policies in the future will be subject to more heated attempts to politicize them. Evidence-based recommendations face a variety of challenges that affect their relative immunity to political attack. Important differences exist in the evidence standards applied to prevention compared with treatment and diagnostic services; those differences vary in their justifiability. The December 17, 2009, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force mammography screening recommendations provide an interesting case study of the intrusion of politics into prevention policy; in some respects this intrusion is particular to mammography, and in others it applies to prevention as a whole. Particular factors can be identified that tend to politicize health topics in general. There are specific ways, however, in which the corrupting influences of politics on evidence-based prevention recommendations and policies can be mitigated.

Keywords: prevention; mammography; guidelines as topic; history of medicine; health topics; politicization

Chapter.  5879 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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