ArticlesDiagnosis and Therapeutics

Medicine: meritorious or meretricious

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Science  26 May 1978:
Vol. 200, Issue 4344, pp. 942-946
DOI: 10.1126/science.644336


In spite of remarkable advances in medical therapy and in the development of fantastic diagnostic devices, American society appears increasingly disenchanted with the physician. The paradox can be explained by the high cost of medical care, the overselling of medicine's capabilities, the expectation that the physician will be both ultrascientific and as emphathic as yesterday's doctor, and little recognition that the curing of one illness in the elderly exposes this group to other disease. Finally, though the physician is trained to manage illnesses, he is also given the excessively broad task of improving personal and societal practices disadvantageous to health.