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.

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 July 31, 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 July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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