Terra Ziporyn is a former associate editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and the author of Disease in the American Press (Greenwood Press, 1988).
Sep 01 1988
Medical Science in the Popular American Press: Beginnings
Medicine has a uniquely important relationship with the public. More than a science, it has a practical side employing theory, yet distinct from it. This practical side always depends on the interaction of two parties: doctor and patient. Consequently, a patient’s ideas about medicine comprise part of the practice of medicine itself. But even before becoming a patient, a person must have some conception of medical theory (science) as well. Doctors, after all, do not operate on unwilling, inanimate objects: people go to doctors for help in certain types of problems because they believe that these problems and their solutions fall under the rubric of medicine. In this regard, the efficacy of medicine depends on the general public’s conception of it.