Risky Medicine: Our Quest To Cure Fear And Uncertainty

Hardcover | September 16, 2015

byRobert Aronowitz

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Will ever-more sensitive screening tests for cancer lead to longer, better lives?  Will anticipating and trying to prevent the future complications of chronic disease lead to better health?  Not always, says Robert Aronowitz in Risky Medicine. In fact, it often is hurting us.  

Exploring the transformation of health care over the last several decades that has led doctors to become more attentive to treating risk than treating symptoms or curing disease, Aronowitz shows how many aspects of the health system and clinical practice are now aimed at risk reduction and risk control. He argues that this transformation has been driven in part by the pharmaceutical industry, which benefits by promoting its products to the larger percentage of the population at risk for a particular illness, rather than the smaller percentage who are actually affected by it. Meanwhile, for those suffering from chronic illness, the experience of risk and disease has been conflated by medical practitioners who focus on anticipatory treatment as much if not more than on relieving suffering caused by disease. Drawing on such controversial examples as HPV vaccines, cancer screening programs, and the cancer survivorship movement, Aronowitz argues that patients and their doctors have come to believe, perilously, that far too many medical interventions are worthwhile because they promise to control our fears and reduce uncertainty.   
 
Risky Medicine is a timely call for a skeptical response to medicine’s obsession with risk, as well as for higher standards of evidence for risk-reducing interventions and a rebalancing of health care to restore an emphasis on the actual curing of and caring for people suffering from disease.      

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Will ever-more sensitive screening tests for cancer lead to longer, better lives?  Will anticipating and trying to prevent the future complications of chronic disease lead to better health?  Not always, says Robert Aronowitz in Risky Medicine. In fact, it often is hurting us.   Exploring the transformation of health care over the last ...

Robert Aronowitz is professor and chair of the history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania; he earned his medical degree from Yale University. His books include Making Sense of Illness: Science, Society, and Disease and Unnatural History: Breast Cancer and American Society. He lives in Merion Station, Pennsylvani...

other books by Robert Aronowitz

Making Sense Of Illness: Science, Society And Disease
Making Sense Of Illness: Science, Society And Disease

Paperback|Jun 10 1999

$32.94 online$32.95list price
Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:September 16, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022604971X

ISBN - 13:9780226049717

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

I

1 Risky medicine: Our quest to cure fear and uncertainty
2 The converged experience of risk and disease
3 The social and psychological efficacy of risk interventions

II

4 The Framingham Heart Study: The emergence of the risk factor approach
5 Gardasil: A vaccine against cancer and a drug to reduce risk
6 Lyme disease vaccines: A cautionary tale for risk intervention
7 Cancer survivorship: The entangled experience of risk and disease
8 The global circulation of risk interventions

III

9 Situating health risks: An opportunity for disease prevention policy
10 Epilogue: The risk system

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“In this important new book, Aronowitz shows us how all aspects of the US health system, from prevention to cure, hospital stays to outpatient visits, fee-for-service to managed care, have become entangled in a sprawling morass of ‘risky medicine’: a preoccupation with reducing and managing risks of future disease rather than treating present illness. Risky Medicine skillfully traces how it is that we came to think of health and disease in terms of risks instead of symptoms, demonstrates why our increasing concern with risk leads to more healthcare spending without necessarily improving quality of life, and offers keen analysis and concrete policy suggestions to rethink the role of risk in health policy and medical practice.  This should be required reading for anyone with a serious interest in the past, present, or future of health care in America.”