Why Do Better Health Care Systems Make People Feel Less Healthy?

Rob Wipond
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The more advanced and expansive a country’s system of medical care is, the sicker people feel, according to a study in Social Science Research. And much of that effect, argued the author, seems to be directly related to psychiatry.

According to an Ohio State University press release, sociologist Hui Zheng used large international datasets “to examine changes in how people rated their health between 1981 and 2007 and compared that to medical expansion in 28 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.” As medical systems expanded, people reported that they felt less healthy.

“Access to more medicine and medical care doesn’t really improve our subjective health,” Zheng said in the press release. “For example, in the United States, the percentage of Americans reporting very good health decreased from 39 percent to 28 percent from 1982 to 2006.”

Zheng suggested that medical expansion is associated with diseases being “discovered” or “created” and more aggressive screening to “find” them. That, he said, leads to overdiagnosing, people believing that they’re less healthy than they actually are, and apparent rising rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression and autism.

“In a separate but related study,” stated the press release, “Zheng found that Americans’ confidence in medicine has declined over the last three decades, again at the same time as medical expansion.”

Zheng, Hui. “Why Has Medicine Expanded? The Role of Consumers.” Social Science Research 52 (July 2015): 34–46. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2015.01.006. (Abstract)

Zheng, Hui. “Losing Confidence in Medicine in an Era of Medical Expansion?” Social Science Research. Accessed March 28, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.10.009. (Abstract)

Medical expansion has led people worldwide to feel less healthy (Ohio State University press release on MedicalXpress, March 19, 2015)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a Victoria, British Columbia-based freelance journalist who has been writing on mental health issues for fifteen years. His research has particularly focused on the interfaces between psychiatry, the justice system, and civil rights. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, six Western Magazine Awards, and four Jack Webster Awards for journalism. He can be contacted through his website.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. The entire edifice hangs top heavy with more premeditated pseudo science than the average human would believe in their wildest fantasy. Pseudo science translates into more money and power. There seems to be a mad scramble towards embracing it with a fury as we see examining psychiatry here at MadInAmerica
    entire edifice means — AMA (medical association} the APA (psychiatric association) and ADA (dental association)
    ( Google) Paracelsus Klinic (with a K) also read the book Sick and Tired by Robert Young

  2. Interesting article, although I think it should have been entitled, “Why Do Bigger Health Care Systems Make People Feel Less Healthy?” since he pointed out that medical expansion decreases a sense of wellbeing. Absolutely, there’s a problem of doctors misdiagnosing people with “created” diseases, and then making healthy people sick with their toxic drugs. I only had access to the abstracts, so am not certain what all his opinions were. But I’m quite certain the lack of ethics in the pharmaceutical industry’s drug trials, the resulting publication bias, and actual lack of efficacy of their drugs is part of why consumers should lose trust in the medical community. Plus, absolutely, a medical community that continues to advocate belief in scientifically invalid disorders does lack ethics. I’m quite certain we should decrease the overall size of the healthcare industry at this point, and perhaps the doctors should stop advocating belief in the invalid DSM disorders … some day?

  3. In the UK you notice the most common job for a Member of Parliament is lawyer, and in Ireland the most common job is accountant. This gives an idea of the skills required.

    Medicine in Europe is mostly paid for anonymously by the
    Public. The Public Health system is a big cash generator where sponsored interests can
    benefit, especially in “mental health” which is mostly invisible.

    “Schizophrenia” in the UK costs £60,000 per sufferer per year (Kings College/LSE) all told, and diagnosing “schizophrenia” (in reality) is worth the same.

  4. If 25% of people are supposedly “depressed” then we have reached the realm of absurdity requiring some serious action. Medicine today is manufacturing disease much the same way as some firemen sometimes set things on fire to keep themselves occupied.