Are ribbon campaigns making us loopy?
Michael Fitzpatrick, a general practitioner, claims that disease awareness increases anxiety--and newspaper and magazine circulations--much more than it increases diagnosis
- By: Michael Fitzpatrick
“And finally, today is colorectal cancer awareness day so here's our health correspondent--wearing the campaign's distinctive melaena coloured ribbon--to tell us about a new 'do it yourself' colonoscopy technique.”
Perhaps not this week, but it can only be a matter of time before every day of the year is allocated to some disease or disorder and every news bulletin concludes with an awareness raising feature. But when does public enlightenment become morbid preoccupation? Are we in danger of becoming so obsessed with the threat of disease that our quality of life is diminished?
Powerful forces drive campaigns to raise public recognition of disease. Doctors seeking to raise the profile of their specialty or special interest sponsor voluntary organisations to attract funds and promote research. For politicians worried about their loss of influence and respect, health promotion activities offer a means of making contact with an atomised electorate.
Pharmaceutical companies have