Earlier this week, I commented in a post about the recent flap over the recommendations on mammograms. One of the reasons an issue like this can become so political - and the debate so insidious - is that there is always someone with an unfortunate anecdote. We should not dismiss anecdotes and real, human stories for helping to give meaning to public policy issues. But if anecdotes become the basis for health policy, we are all in trouble. In this Op Ed Friday in the Baltimore Sun, Dr. Miriam Alexander, president-elect of the American College of Preventive Medicine and a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, offers a cogent defense of the taskforce recommendation and an explanation of the process. It is worth a read. Here is a taste:
"The task force, using rigorous methodologies, examines the scientific evidence for preventive services. It carefully weighs the benefits and the drawbacks before making its recommendations - based on what's best for whole populations, not each individual."