Politics in major medical journals

December 6, 2012 by MassDevice

By Westby G. Fisher, MD, FACC

Westby Fisher

Medical journals aren't what they used to be.  Just ten short years ago, medical journals were places to report scientific study, interesting cases or clinical updates and reviews.  They were, for the most part, about science and discovery.  

Now, there is a dramatic shift of scientific content in our journals to politics and policy.

No where is this more evident than the much-heralded and widely read New England Journal of Medicine.  (The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is not too far behind either.)

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As an example, I was struck by this week's New England Journal of Medicine article titles:

"Use of ADHD Medication and Criminality" (an observational study)
"Mammography Screening for Breast Cancer" (complete with poll)
"The Future of Obamacare" (Perspective)
"Lessons from Sandy" (Perspective)
"Drug Policy for an Aging Population" (Perspective)
"Intravenous Immune Globulin — How Does It Work?" (Review article)

I decided to look just 10 short years ago and compare what article titles existed in the New England Journal of Medicine from the week of November 21, 2002.  Here are the article titles from that issue: