Patients remain sceptical of drug study findings

21 June 2017

People are more prone to follow friends' advice on medication than scientific studies.

People are more prone to follow friends' advice on medication than scientific studies, research claims.

The Academy of Medical Sciences surveyed 2,041 members of the public and 1,013 general practitioners in the U.K. on their views of medical research. Only 37 percent of the general public noted they trust the findings of such investigations, while 65 percent reported they would trust friends and family’s experiences more.

Furthermore, a staggering 82 percent of doctors revealed they think medical research is biased in favour of the drugs they are reviewing in order to make them appear safe and beneficial.

The Academy has called for the National Health Service (NHS) to publish more detailed information on common treatments, including listing the most common risks and side effects and urge GPs to take more time during appointments to properly discuss concerns, especially with older people.

Read more: Grandparents’ outdated health remedies may put children at risk

“It’s startling to hear that only about a third of the public trust medical research,” report author Professor John Tooke, former president of the Academy, said.

“Patients are struggling to make sense of the information they receive from their doctor, the TV, the Internet and their friends and family about medicines.

“With our ageing population and ever more sophisticated treatments being made available, we need to act now to give patients clearer and more useful information about the medicines they take.”

Read more: Middle-aged men without friends at risk of health problems

One of the highlights of the report was statins, which are taken by many people to lower cholesterol. Research claims 80,000 strokes and heart attacks a year will be prevented from these pills, though patients and GPs fear the long-term consequences of taking the medication, which could lead to type 2 diabetes. The same goes for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and its link to breast cancer.

“Medical science is progressing at an unprecedented rate, opening up opportunities not only to cure certain diseases but potentially to prevent them ever occurring,” Professor Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, has stated.

“It is vital that we find the best possible ways to use and communicate scientific evidence, so that progress may be translated into benefits for patients.”

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