“TIME,” as it were, to pick on the general media’s approach to informing the public about where things stand in improving health, and in particular the actions individuals might take to strengthen their own well being.

Last week Time.com presented: “5 New Rules for Good Health,” (Jan 3, 2011)  They are neither rules nor are they particularly new.   At best they are reminders and observations of a few trends and possibilities.

  • Learn CPR
  • Relax, you’re getting enough Vitamin D
  • Better Diagnosis of Food Allergies
  • Exercise Often and Over the Long Haul
  • Early Blood Tests to Predict Disease?

You’ll have your own thoughts:  The full article is here.

Let’s consider the last rule: “Early Blood Tests to Predict Disease?” The writer states that:

…Intriguing preliminary work suggests that it may be possible to use a simple blood test…

and

…doctors are hoping to identify at-risk patients early in their disease process

The general reader wants to know one thing: “When will it be?”

In health science, “preliminary work;” “may be;” and “hoping” usually indicate very distant time markers when tools and solutions might become available.

On the other hand:

… (identification of ) at-risk patients early in their disease process, perhaps even before symptoms start, in order to intervene with treatments that may lessen the impact of the disease…

…is, or should be, the Holy Grail for health science.  Such work is now rapidly evolving in many places: in genomic research; studying the impact of environmental stress; in the brain-gut connection, in the everyday clinical approaches of functional and integrative medicine.

This is not meant to be a blast at Time, which after all, published the following provocative cover in 2008:

And it is heartening to see a media operation like Time producing Healthland, devoted to “A Healthy Balance of the Mind, Body and Spirit.”

But the habit of general media has been to present health-related news and developments such as those in this “5 Rules” piece in language meant to be “understandable” by a consumer audience.   When I worked in newsrooms that used to mean at a 7th-grade reading level; Lord know what it is now.   Health consumers today need and I am sure can take in and absorb much more specific detail about the state of treatments, research and clinical reality than they are often presented with.

With the state of health and wellness solutions, suppositions, options and tools now flailing around in a vortex of change (about to be exacerbated by links from 300 million smartphone users), the more precise and clear the information is, the better consumers — to say nothing of docs, RNs and other practitioners — will be served.

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