Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Evidence Based Medicine

Given the ever expanding grip that the Advertising Standards Agency seems to exert over all of us therapists, do you ever ask the question why?  How?

It seems to me that many of the benefits that we were taught as students when learning our therapies, and clearly apparent when practising those such as reflexology, aromatherapy and massage have to be pushed under the carpet and hidden.  Not allowed to be told!  Why?  Who is controlling this?

One of the remits of our professional bodies is surely to uphold the values of our therapies and yet they seem to be floundering and appeasing the cry for our therapies to be subject to the same rigours of control that pharmaceutical drugs are.  I ask the same question - why?  Why on earth do we think that we have to try to emulate the clinical trials that have been formulated to test drug efficacy?  They are completely the wrong model for most of our therapies so why are we allowing ourselves to be sucked into that way of thinking?

I am totally fed up with being advised to dum down the wonderful value that our therapies can offer to basically just a nice relaxing treatment so the stress relief is the basis of the therapeutic effect - if it has one, of course.  Rubbish!  Might as well go and have a lie-down or warm bath and it will do you as much good.  Really?  Would clients pay us and return time after time for that?

Drugs are alien substances that are put into the body and of course have to be properly trialled, though one does have to question the gold standard of randomised, controlled studies, that was pioneered to stand up to scrutiny in a court of law.

What happened to clinical observation, and even patient/client evaluation?

The touch therapies can not be subject to placebo trials, as any touch will cause an effect.  A "dummy" reflexology treatment given by a lay person will still have an effect - most likely positive - as the touch will generate a response.  It is quite ridiculous for us to be cowed into thinking that we have to conform to the standards that are applied to alien & very often highly toxic substances being administered to the body.  Aromatherapy is the nearest equivalent to drugs that touch therapies use and trained aromatherapists know how to use safely the essential oils that can have a much greater effect than simply relaxation & stress relief!  Remember our training?  Remember the safety warnings?  If they simply generate relaxation and a feel good effect, why the safety warnings?

Steve Hickey discusses the subject of evidence based medicine in his book "Tarnished Gold - The Sickness of Evidence Based Medicine" and he will be speaking at the Convention on Supportive Techniques for People with Cancer on 20th October 2012 near Birmingham.  He will be well worth hearing - his views are spectacularly controversial and turns evidence based medicine on its head.  As therapists, we need to hear this so that we can have an informed view on what is being forced upon us.  It shouldn't be and we need to stop the insidious process from denigrating our therapies completely. 

Posted by Maddy