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Parents Will Push for Medication, Even If Doc Says Not Needed
Date:4/1/2013

cated. The average age of their sons and daughters was 4.5 years. About one-fifth of these children had been previously diagnosed with GERD.

Parents were randomly given one of four hypothetical scenarios: Their infant had GERD and existing drugs were ineffective; their infant had GERD without any comment on medications; no disease label was offered in the context of drugs being ineffective; or no disease label or drug information was offered.

The result: Those parents who were given a GERD diagnosis ended up being interested in treating their infant with drugs despite being specifically cautioned that drugs wouldn't work.

By contrast, parents who were not offered a single disease label to describe their infant's crying and spitting symptoms only expressed an interest in drug treatment if the physician did not raise the issue of the drug's ineffectiveness. This left parents to assume that the relevant drugs worked.

When medicinal ineffectiveness was discussed, these parents expressed no eagerness to launch a drug treatment.

"It's important for both patients and doctors to know that these kinds of labels can influence how parents or patients respond to symptoms," Scherer said. "Words have the power to make a normal process seem like something that requires medical intervention," she explained.

"It's also important," she added, "for parents or patients to listen to the whole story. Is the doctor saying that these symptoms will go away on their own, or that available medications don't work all that well? That information is just as important as the disease label."

For his part, Dr. David Dunkin -- an assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of pediatric gastroenterology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City -- said the survey findings get to the very heart of the doctor-parent relationship. He was not involved with the new study.

"It's the job of the physician to be a partner with the p
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