Paradigm Shift in Bio Medicine and Health Care in the 21 century
In the English speaking world, until recently “bio medicine” used to be just another word for “medical biology”, (en.wikipedia.org , Oct 2017) a branch of medical science that had arisen in the 19th century on the basis of Louis Pasteur’s then revolutionary discovery of the role germs play in the spread of infectious diseases.
Medical biology became the bedrock on which the fortunes of the pharmaceutical industry were build and are still standing, and medical schools and practitioners still very much rely on this century-old model for diagnosis and treatment. Hence those who wrote (and authorised) the article on “bio medicine” in the English language WIKIPEDIA (Oct. 2017) feel justified to tell readers that this model “has been the dominant health system for more than a century”. What it does not tell is that the model has been criticised by modern reseachers for decades as being out-dated and that a paradigm shift is badly needed- and well on its way.
In 2012, Suzanne Bennet Johnson, distinguished research professor at Florida State University’s College of Medicine, declared that, in the US medical system, this paradigm shift was finally happening (S.Bennet Johnson, APA PresidentSeptember, September 2012, Vol 43, No.8).
Bio medicine was finally in for a paradigm change. Its long-awaited renaissance, she said, was build on a new model of medical intervention known as the “the biopsychosocial model”. This is an approach to medical research and practice proposed as far back as 1977 by George Engel (Engel, G. Science, 1977, 196:129-136). Why? Because, Americans were dying primarily from chronic rather than infectious diseases. In other words, medical biology alone could not deal with modern health problems. Despite the statistical facts, the U.S. health care system remained entrenched in the out-dated biomedical model.
But as chronic diseases became ever more prevalent, Bennet Johnson told her audience 2012, medical schools in the US were finally beginning to realise that their graduates were taught a system that kept “failing to address this modern health-care challenge”. So they started to teach their future health professionals things like “patient-provider communication skills, the medical impact of common societal problems, the impact of patients culture and beliefs, and the impact of provider bias and beliefs”.
Acknowledging and taking to heart the “impact of provider bias and beliefs” is, of course, extremely important for newly training health professionals to understand, if a paradigm shift for the benefit of patients if to be effected.
This paradigm shift in bio medicine is especially important in view of the ongoing war that the entrenched old guardians of an out-dated model are waging on Complementary and Alternative medicine (CAM). Their negative views are justified by a supposed lack of scientific evidence. Their mission, they say, is to protect the unassuming public. When it would be much better for the patients’ welfare, if this belligerent faction of the medical profession would to let go of their ideological territorialism and join forces for the benefit of the health care system and its clients. It is much easier to deal with patients’ needs when you can see them as humans, not so different from yourself.
What is happening in the UK?
Sadly, the medical profession in the UK seems, in part, to be particularly guilty of ongoing entrenchment, as well as purposeful ignorance of highly relevant research conducted in our own universities.
For example, this autumn (2017), the University of Coventry published a scientific review of 18 research projects concerned with the “effectiveness of mind–body interventions (MBIs) in improving mental and physical health” , including Mindfulness, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, Relaxation Response, and Breath Regulation.
(Front Immunology, 2017; 8: 670. link 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00670 )
The studies, using gene expression analysis, added up to provide “considerable evidence” that these MBIs were able to down-regulate the activity of genes that had been targeted by NF-κB. “NF-κB translates stress into inflammation by changing the expression of genes which code for inflammatory cytokines. Lower activity suggests reduced inflammation, i.e. they seem to be able to revert the molecular signature of the effects of chronic stress.”
In other words, MBI therapies and practices boost the immune system and prevent, and may even reverse, detrimental changes to the DNA caused by specific and non-specific stress.
What is happening in Europe?
Interestingly, on the continent, the term Bio Medicine was coined after this Bio Medicine paradigm shift. The term is therefore understood as representing the 21st century approach, i.e. a much more holistic view of the aims and possibilities of medical research and practice. To give just a few examples, I am listing an overview for Europe, the University of Basel (CH) and the University of Würzburg (GFR) .
Why do we need a philosophical approach in medicine and the life sciences to actually implement this paradigm shift?
If you have any doubt about how important it is that the bio sciences design and interpretate their research on tbe basis of a reflective philosophical approac, if they want to tell us anything about life, living beings and the human condition, please listen to talks by embryologist Professor Emeritus Jaap van der Wal MD PhD, University of Maastrich (NL), about the developement of, not an “organism”, an accumulation of specialised cells, but a human being from the moment of conception. We do not have a body, we are our body, and what we do to it, we do to us. What we allow others to do to it, we allow them to do to us.