Before a medication or medical treatment is approved in the United States, certain requirements of demonstrated effects are made in order to say something is “effective” or “it works.” Many in the general public assume this involves a demonstration of effectiveness and safety over an extended period of time - in order to be declared as “successful” treatment outcome.
There is a very different sense of these terms among the research and business communities, however, where “successful” and “effective” is often limited to only 3-6 weeks or a few months of study. The discrepancy between these perceived meanings is significant - especially given how many people enter a particular medical treatment under the understanding that it is “effective” in the broader sense - and not in the more limited one.
These discrepancies have motivated many to press for more explicit and transparent informed consent for medical treatments - at a minimum, acknowledging to those receiving a medication or procedure what we do or do not know.
Hess & Lacasse (1992) What Does It Mean for an Intervention to “Work”? Making Sense of Conflicting Treatment Outcomes for Youth Facing Emotional Problems, 92(3). Families in Society.
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