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)