Doctors, News & Research, Patient Education, Resources, Society, Treatment

Is Your Doctor in Touch With Current Research?

Being an informed patient sometimes means feeling like you know more than your doctor does. Sometimes this isn’t just a feeling, but a fact.

In Why Doesn’t My Doctor Know This?, Dr. Kent Holtorf explains that “. . . [T]he overwhelming majority (all but a few percent) of physicians (endocrinologists, internists, family practitioners, rheumatologists, etc.) do not read medical journals. When asked, most doctors will claim that they routinely read medical journals, but this has been shown not to be the case.”

I don’t want to believe this statement, but with schedules crammed tight and overwhelming paperwork, it’s no surprise that some docs can’t keep up on all the research in their fields.

So the patient must step in. If you read about new study findings, look into more yourself. Many of the news articles will parrot each other, but dig around for the study abstract for more details. If the study is only of people with migraine with aura, and you don’t have auras, there’s no indication that you will benefit from the treatment in the article.

Don’t just bring in an article and ask, “What can you tell me about this?” Take concrete questions to your doctor. Does this treatment apply to you? Have other studies supported its findings? If your doc can’t answer your questions right away, ask that he or she get back to you.

If your doctor doesn’t act on the information, don’t assume that he or she is lazy or unwilling to work with you. One study does not prove a treatment is effective, future studies frequently contradict previously published research, or the approach may not be right for you.

However, if you feel like you are frequently stonewalled, being disrespected or not adequately treated, there’s always the option of shopping for another doctor.

[via We Are Advocates]

4 thoughts on “Is Your Doctor in Touch With Current Research?”

  1. Thank you for your comments, Dr. Peterson. Your insight is invaluable.

    I do see rebound headaches a lot in popular media, but whether the coverage is good is another story!


  2. Oh–and medication overuse headache–aka “rebound”?–is not just in the popular media.

    In fact, is it in the popular media? If so, good!

    It needs more attention. Much more attention. I am still seeing three to five cases a week. It’s real. It is a product of medical research.

    Feel free to e-mail me if you’d like more information. I would be happy to provide references.

  3. Ok–I have to comment on this. Do you have any idea how many medical journals there are out there?

    I receive more than one a day, and that’s just headache and Neurology journals–and I don’t subscribe to them all. If you tried to keep up with everything, you wouldn’t have time to see patients.

    So for primary care, I am sure they try to keep up the best they can, but the sheer volume of emerging information is overwhelming. Factor in the fact that our health care system is just plain broken–you can’t make a living if you take the time to really listen to patients, and you can’t do good medicine if you only spend 8 minutes per patient, let alone read two journals a day…

    Well, you see the problem.

    As well as why I am posting at 1 am. 🙂

  4. What bothers me most is that alot of these docs don’t REALIZE how much they don’t know about headaches, but then they go ahead and treat you like they have the definitive facts. Sometimes they even present information that sounds like whatever’s most popular in the recent media, like about “rebound headache”, for instance. I find it quite daunting.

    Thanks for this article!

    I totally agree with you.


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