The Importance of Science Literacy in Health Care

There is no area of life where critical thinking is more important than in your health care choices.

Unfortunately, cutting through the clutter to the science is not easy. I am a member of a woo free mom’s group online. A group of moms who are dedicated to ensuring we make science based choices for our families and ourselves when it comes to health decisions. And we struggle with it.

The most often asked question is – is this woo or not.  (Woo is information that looks sciencey – but isn’t).  If we have trouble figuring it out, it’s not easy.

So why make the effort? Because your life may depend on it.  Is salt good or bad for you? How much fat can or should you eat? Who can we trust when the science seems to change all the time! First fat is bad, then it’s good then it’s only sort of good but only if it’s certain types of fat – but wait – isn’t coconut oil good, maybe not – depends on what you are using it for and whether you have heart health problems. (sigh)

My husband recently had to have some heart stents put in.  Ok – so I research them. Find out well yes, the new stents that prevent reclosing of the artery also increase risks of blood clots slightly – which is why you have to take blood thinners for at least a year afterwards.

Why risk this? Because with no stent, the arteries reclose 30% of the time and with non-medicated stents 25% of the time, but with the new medicated stents they reclose only 10% of the time. So in the risk reward analysis – the slight increase risk of blood clots is outweighed by the benefit of reduced likelihood of needing to do the procedure again.

Of course, if you really want to improve your chances, you have to eat right too otherwise your heart disease will continue to be a problem.

So – what have I learned from our recent medical journey?  That I need to trust the doctors!  I can do all the research I want and totally freak myself out with fear and confusion, or ... I could just ask the doctor who is actually trained on these things and understands the science because – that’s his rather specialized job (I am saying he because my husband’s cardiologist is a he).  Asking this doctor questions taught me more than all of my own research.

I’m not saying don’t educate yourself. I’m saying Doctor Googles isn’t always reliable. (see  If you are confused after consulting Doctor Googles, which you probably will be, consult an actual professional. They really do know more than you do.

1 comment:

  1. Great points, Jen. I swear, Googling medical issues that come up can scare the pee out of you, while convincing yourself that you're surely going to die! And I always remind myself (especially when dealing with veterinary or medical issues), "This doc has the certificate, I don't."
    Thank you for this!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...