Personal Responsibility for Health

Medical school students learn it, and laypeople learn it: medical science has got to the point where practically anything – blood pressure, diabetes, urinary tract infections, cancer, asthma – can be cured or at least kept under control. There are precise scientific protocols in place that tell doctors and urologists how to treat a patient for any one of these diseases. A patient gets doctor advice for the best practices he needs to learn, and everything will be fine. Except for one little complication.

For some reason, there are patients who just won’t receive a urologist’s advice with any sense of personal responsibility. It doesn’t matter how good the research is that goes into inventing the treatment; it doesn’t matter how good the doctors are; the patient goes home and he does exactly as he pleases. Even if the consequences for his health be frightening. It isn’t just some nutcase somewhere who would ignore doctor advice. There is some pretty strong evidence-based medicine that backs the treatment course laid out for high blood pressure and for diabetes for instance. It is proven thing that taking evidence-based medical advice to heart results in fewer complications and longer life. Why is it then that 60% of all diabetes patients have difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels? Why do half of all blood pressure patients have trouble controlling their blood pressure?

It isn’t that there is anything wrong with the medicines or the treatment method offered to them. It’s just that these patients just don’t take the doctor advice they’ve received very seriously. When the numbers get to be that high, you have to wonder if it is just something about human nature. It could be, actually; tell people all you want that smoking is bad for them; but they just can’t seem to believe that anything that feels so good can be bad.

As far as they can, researchers are now trying on a new way in which to study medicine. For instance, if a diabetes patient has his doctor telling him that what he needs is to eat lots of whole-grain, what is he supposed to do if he is poor and doesn’t have access to farmers’ markets? If taking walks is good for your blood pressure, what do you do if your neighborhood has no walking paths or parks? What do you do if you eat lunch at your place of work and there are no healthy menu options available? When your urologist tells you that drinking more fluids may help prevent kidney stones, do people increase their intake of water to avoid a possible lithotripsy appointment? (According to newriverurology, patients only partially heed advice and are lukewarm in taking action for their urology issues.) There could be something about lots of patients’ lives to make it difficult for them to follow doctor advice.

They want to bring in health-based medicine where researchers come together with the entire community to try to make healthy options possible. There are quite a few pilot programs in place that are going to try to see how possible this is. One hopes they work.