Did you read something fabulously non-work related over the break? I did. Basically opening any book by Isabelle Allende evokes a Pavlovian relaxation reflex in me – ok admittedly some salivation as well! Then I decided to seamlessly segue into some work-related reading that I intended to catch up from the previous year. Good idea, right. Just slip it into the beach-bag among the sunscreen (sorry Pete) and the sunnies (double sorry Pete), as if I would not even notice I was actually working, while not working. Only then…I started reading and thinking and thinking and thinking…which was not the intention of these authors.
You see I’d gathered a collection of hard-copy newsletters and new product information from some practitioner only companies – these lovely multi-page shiny things were full of clever graphics, so colourful, so eye-catching I was tempted to wallpaper the clinic with them. There’s one on methylation and mental health, there’s another on approaches to immune modulation in allergy management and so forth.
Then I read the accompanying text…not so impressive…references often only provided on application & when provided often quite out-dated, one even referenced the 3rd edition of Braun & Cohen…heck I’m not sure why we bothered to put out another edition since then that’s twice the size and content! Or, in those materials where primary studies were cited in support (of the product…let’s face it) were of very poor quality, with sample sizes of 20 for example, or other major methodological issues and only ever had positive findings. Then, a lightbulb moment.
I looked back at these lovely eye-catching graphics that make effective gut protocols appear a cinch or complex mental health management a bit of a dawdle & 2 thoughts landed
No.1: ‘Holy guacamole…beyond the engaging colours, lovely fonts and stylised imagery, most don’t really say anything other than…we have the perfect thing for this,’
Shortly followed by thought No.2: ‘Gosh these remind me of the landfill the pharmaceutical companies wanted to fill GP in-trays with’
I’m not surprised by this parallel with the pharmaceutical world of course, just disappointed. Others do better…but therein lies the key. We, the practitioners, have to be discerning. Now I know I am a boring old nag about these things and at the ANS last year together with Jason Hawrelak and Nirala Jacobi, really did dance on our soapbox about 1) the need for independent and unbiased education and 2) the need for us all be vigilant about being discerning when the information comes from a vested interest. And boy did we cop some flack about this! But we also received enormous support from practitioners, ex-company employees & even some current company employees who echoed our concerns and agreed it is up to us, the practitioners to force the bar higher for all providers of goods and services to our patients.
So how can we do this when our schedules are already full? Form a collective of colleagues – pose the same set of questions and comments to each company representative you encounter and then share your findings. Basically…use the force. What kind of questions, I hear you ask? Well maybe ones along these lines:
- Can you please provide me with full text copies of your key supporting papers – for this product or test?
- Can you also provide me with full text copies or links to studies which produced negative findings – for this product or test?
- Could you please explain to me why the form/dose/combination used in the study your company is citing is different from the form provided in your product – and can you provide evidence of equity?
- Could you please explain to me why the testing method, sample, collection etc used in the study your company is citing is different from those employed in your test- and can you provide evidence of equity?
- Can you please provide me with the method used to derive your reference ranges for this functional test – including sample size, gender and age distribution, location (think about it….minerals, heavy metals), reported health issues and outline how frequently you review and update this reference range?
- [if relevant] Why don’t you include all your references in your materials rather than demanding more of my time having to call and request them? It is essential to me, in order to make an informed choice to have immediate access to these
I undertook a holiday..not a lobotomy or a personality transplant 😉
Let’s make 2019 a great one professionally and raise the bar!
Speaking of a reliable source of non-biased independent education. I know that was a conflict of interest, right?! Well spotted.
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