Note: This is a reblog from the blog “Keith’s Korner”. As our patients turn towards media for health information, we must be cognizant of what they are learning and determine if what they are learning is best-evidenced. We also need to hold our media counterparts accountable for the information they are sharing. Now on to the post…
Over the last few years, whenever I (or my colleagues) witness the sharing of erroneous or outdated information on television, in print or through various other media, we complain among ourselves about the power of the culture around us and how we have little influence in changing the perceptions of those not directly involved in our care. Worse still, the patient’s who do receive our care have often been inundated with nocebic information and have entrenched beliefs about their conditions that are challenging (if not impossible) to influence or change. Among the most egregious, in my estimation, is the continued reliance on postural and biomechanical models to explain the occurrence, prevention and treatment of acute and chronic low back pain (LBP).
While I admire Dr Richard Besser for many of his positive contributions on television and online (for instance, his engaging individuals on twitter this week regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccinations) I found the information being presented last week (specific to LBP on The View and LIVE with Kelly and Michael- links can be found at the bottom of this post) was difficult for me to watch. For instance, there was a graphic of a lumbar spine with the vertebrae outlined in blue with disks that were bright red – I understand the impact of seeing ‘red’ discs rather than white and how this engages different thoughts and emotions in the viewer. There was talk of the spine collapsing. The segment lacks information to inform the audience that disc bulging and degeneration are normal and part of the aging process – not necessarily painful. There was an over-emphasis on posture, and the ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ way of positioning one’s self, as if such things existed – allowing the viewer to blame themselves for their eventual/likely episode of LBP. I decided that this time, unlike all of the other times in the past, I would not sit back and complain in an echo chamber, but instead, try to make a difference.