The Burden of Disease and the Changing Task of Medicine
David S. Jones, Scott H. Podolsky, and Jeremy A. Greene
N Engl J Med 2012; 366:2333-2338 - June 21, 2012
Comments open through December 31, 2012
“……At first glance, the inaugural 1812 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery, and the Collateral Branches of Science seems reassuringly familiar: a review of angina pectoris, articles on infant diarrhea and burns. The apparent similarity to today's Journal, however, obscures a fundamental discontinuity (1812a, b, c; see Historical Journal Articles Cited). Disease has changed since 1812. People have different diseases, doctors hold different ideas about those diseases, and diseases carry different meanings in society. To understand the material and conceptual transformations of disease over the past 200 years, one must explore the incontrovertibly social nature of disease.
Disease is always generated, experienced, defined, and ameliorated within a social world. Patients need notions of disease that explicate their suffering. Doctors need theories of etiology and pathophysiology that account for the burden of disease and inform therapeutic practice.
Policymakers need realistic understandings of determinants of disease and medicine's impact in order to design systems that foster health. The history of disease offers crucial insights into the intersections of these interests and the ways they can inform medical practice and health policy……..”
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