Responses of populations or defined groups to collective influences from opinion leaders or peer pressure. These responses may be irrational but can profoundly alter ways people behave, dress, eat, fall ill, and are treated for their diseases. Examples include women's shoes, which fashion dictates must look “attractive,” despite evidence of structural and functional harm they may do to the feet, diets that rely on starvation or bizarre ingredients, and, in the 19th century, tight corsets that constricted women's waists, sometimes deforming and even crippling them. Harmful fads and fashions in medical care have included blood-letting, purging, colonic irrigation, irradiation for acne and other complaints, and psychosurgery. Some currently popular drug treatments may fall into the category of harmful, but only time will tell.
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.