Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Medicalizing human conditions: A growth industry -- but what does it cost?

Date:
May 19, 2010
Source:
Brandeis University
Summary:
Menopause. Normal pregnancy. Infertility. ADHD. Erectile dysfunction. Over the last several decades, these conditions have come to be defined and treated as medical problems. They've been "medicalized." In the first study of its kind, researchers used national data to estimate the costs of these and a handful of other common conditions on escalating US health care spending.

Menopause. Normal pregnancy. Infertility. ADHD. Erectile dysfunction. Over the last several decades, these conditions have come to be defined and treated as medical problems. They've been "medicalized." In the first study of its kind in the current issue of Social Science and Medicine, Brandeis researchers used national data to estimate the costs of these and a handful of other common conditions on escalating U.S. healthcare spending.

Related Articles


The researchers, led by Brandeis sociologist Peter Conrad, evaluated 12 conditions that had been defined as medicalized by physician organizations, and for which there were current medical spending data. The other conditions considered in the study were anxiety and behavioral disorders; body image; male pattern baldness; normal sadness; obesity; sleep disorders, and substance-related disorders.

The robust trend toward ever-greater medicalization of human conditions is undeniable, with an increasing number of medical diagnoses and treatments for behavioral problems and normal life events. Conrad and his colleagues analyzed medical spending on these disorders -- payments to hospitals, pharmacies, physicians and other health care providers -- and discovered that they accounted for $77.1 billion in medical spending in 2005 -- 3.9 percent of total domestic health care expenditures.

"We spend more on these medicalized conditions than on cancer, heart disease, or public health," said Conrad. "While medicalization is unlikely to be a key driver of skyrocketing health care costs, $77 billion represents a substantial dollar sum."

Although the study did not evaluate whether medicalization is good or bad for health and society, it demonstrates the need for understanding the societal and economic impact of growing medicalization. Conrad explained that some researchers attributed medicalization to the growth of medicine's professional jurisdiction, increased consumer demands for medical solutions, and the pharmaceutical industry expanding markets for drugs.

"By estimating the amount spent on medicalized human problems, we've raised the obvious question as to whether this spending is 'appropriate,'" said Conrad. "The next question is whether we can more directly evaluate the appropriateness of these medical interventions and consider policies that curb the growth or even shrink the amount of spending on some medicalized conditions."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brandeis University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Peter Conrad, Thomas Mackie, Ateev Mehrotra. Estimating the costs of medicalization. Social Science & Medicine, 2010; 70 (12): 1943 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.02.019

Cite This Page:

Brandeis University. "Medicalizing human conditions: A growth industry -- but what does it cost?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517152536.htm>.
Brandeis University. (2010, May 19). Medicalizing human conditions: A growth industry -- but what does it cost?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517152536.htm
Brandeis University. "Medicalizing human conditions: A growth industry -- but what does it cost?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517152536.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins