A new study in Pediatrics asked parents how they would feel about a hypothetical scenario. They gave a history of a patient who is spitting up, possiting, regurgitating or whatever you want to call it, and either gave it a disease label GERD, gastro-esophageal reflux DISEASE, or not. They also told half of the parents (factorial design) that medications were probably ineffective. (Scherer LD, Zikmund-Fisher BJ, Fagerlin A, Tarini BA: Influence of “gerd” label on parents’ decision to medicate infants. Pediatrics 2013.) Once the label was attached to the clinical scenario, parents were more likely to want to treat the baby with medications, even when they had been told that they don’t work!
This is accompanied by a short and pertinent editorial with a good title. ‘The hazards of medicalizing variants of normal’. Carey WB:Pediatrics 2013.