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Fri Jul 6, 2012, 01:45 PM

Testing The “Individualization” Of CAM Treatments Shows No Benefits



So what were the results? Well, as is usual in a study looking at a subjective measure like pain, all patients improved. There was, however, no difference between those who received individualized treatment and a random herbal concoction not expected to have any effect on arthritis. This most likely indicates nothing happening here other than nonspecific effects associated with participating in a trial, including placebo, regression to the mean, the Hawthorne effect, and all the usual suspects that fool us in clinical trials, and in real life.

This study nicely illustrates several of the issues associated with supposed individualization of CAM treatment. First, it shows that such treatment is not, in any meaningful sense, any more individualized than good quality science-based medical treatment. Choosing a selection of herbs based on previous experience, historical use, tradition, and the unscientific theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and then selecting which of these herbs to give each patient based on the same prior experience and unscientific theory, is still applying generalizations based on groups to individuals. It simply uses generalizations based on unreliable sources of data.

The study also illustrates that individualizing therapy in this way doesn’t add any efficacy to the treatment. Not surprisingly, the study showed, as the others mentioned early have as well, that tailoring treatment to individuals based on generalizations derived from biased and unreliable sources of information leads to a therapy no more effective than randomly picking herbs out of a hat.

The difference between effective science-based medicine and ineffective medicine of any kind, conventional or alternative, is that the general principles used to guide therapy are derived from formal, controlled research that compensates for the weaknesses in our individual, informal, and unstructured judgment. If individualized medicine is just a code for using informal group observations instead of structured scientific ones to guide therapy, than it is not surprising that it doesn’t work any better than just making up a treatment haphazardly with no guiding principles at all."


A good piece worth reading, IMO.

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Reply Testing The “Individualization” Of CAM Treatments Shows No Benefits (Original post)
HuckleB Jul 2012 OP
bemildred Jul 2012 #1
HuckleB Jul 2012 #2
bemildred Jul 2012 #3

Response to HuckleB (Original post)

Fri Jul 6, 2012, 02:57 PM

1. Anecdotal:

I once had what turned out to be a mycobacterial pneumonia, 1994 it was. I allowed my wife to talk me into going to a CAM herbalist for it, thought it was the usual naso-pharyngeal stuff, sort of went into remission, thought I was invulnerable too back then, so some months later, it came back with a vengeance, wound up in the ER with two broken ribs from coughing, and buckets of greenish-grey stuff that I coughed up. Did you know you can break your own ribs from coughing? I'll bet you did. A round of antibiotics and it was gone in days.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #1)

Sat Jul 7, 2012, 12:03 AM

2. I come from a ridiculously big family, so I've had a couple relatives break ribs that way.

It sounds horrific.

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Response to HuckleB (Reply #2)

Sat Jul 7, 2012, 06:59 AM

3. You could say it got my attention.

Not that easy to do back then, I was busy.

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