Your Belief System

The Power of Belief

This You Tube video beautifully captures two important principles: the power of belief and of perseverance.

Personal Preferences

No two people are exactly alike.

How do you prefer to be treated?  On a scale that goes from natural and minimally invasive  – to very aggressive treatment, where do you place yourself?  What are your beliefs about what precipitated an illness? What does your intuition tell you to do to enhance healing?

There are situations in medicine where everyone agrees that there is one best approach.   More often, in medicine, there are shades of gray where a patient’s beliefs and preferences become incredibly important when making treatment decisions.

For example.  Say you are a middle aged woman diagnosed with osteopenia (thinning of the bones) and your physician recommends you take a medicine in the bisphosphonate class.  The number needed to treat (NNT) to prevent one hip fracture with a bisphosphonate is about 100.  And, bisphosphonates can have side effects.  One woman might quickly agree to take the medication, knowing that her mother had a hip fracture and lost her independence.  Another, might say to herself,  “100 women take this medicine for a year, and only one benefits.  I don’t think so.”  Neither woman is right nor wrong, rather they are weighing personal factors and preferences in making a decision.

It is reasonable to ask your physician about the NNT and the NNH (number needed to harm) when considering a medicine for prevention.  They can help you sort your own decision. And, a useful website lists the NNT for many common medications and conditions.

A lovely TEDx talk by Talithia Williams is available here that describes how tracking your own personal data can be helpful in making important health decisions.