Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The American Medical Student Association---a paradox of skepticism and credulity

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) is in the news again with the roll out of a collaboration with Medical Letter (via Earth Times). The press release, titled “Medical Students Receive Free Evidence-Based Materials to Combat Marketing Paraphernalia” suggests that AMSA is all about EBM and critical thinking. It goes on to talk about professionalism and critical evaluation of therapies. The Medical Letter is a wonderful resource and should help students learn about rational drug therapy.

But cognitive dissonance sets in when the initiative is juxtaposed with AMSA’s numerous promotions of non-evidence based and implausible alternative medicine modalities. Page 4 of their handbook on Integrative, Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Providers of Primary Care claims, for example, that “Homeopathy is very cost effective over the long term”. The entire chapter on homeopathy in another AMSA alternative medicine publication, Between Heaven and Earth, is uncritical (pp. 34-36). The chapter on Therapeutic Touch explains the technique on the basis of chakras (p. 43):

Blockages of these chakras result in depletion of energy in the physical, emotional or mental dimensions associated with each. For example, a blockage of the root chakra can result in dysfunction in the physical energy layer, causing fatigue or ailments of the lower back, hips, legs and perineum.

It goes on.

What’s up with AMSA anyway? They’ll shun drug company support because they “don’t want to be bought”, demonstrate in front of a drug company’s headquarters by dumping thousands of advertising pens there, yet accept support from the American Holistic Medicine Association which promotes stuff like this.


DrWes said...

Well said, RW.

Ladybird said...

How do you know the chakra methods don't work? I'm on an alternative med for diabetes and find it's working well for me. I'm not saying all of it may be working, but some certainly do and practically have no side effects as most western/regular meds do.

Nobody is saying it should be taken to extremes.

I say bravo to the AMSA, there just might be still some hope for this country, which is very much controlled by the drug industry.