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Friday, April 24, 2015

When ‘Moneyball’ Meets Medicine

By Jeremy N. Smith
The New York Times
Originally published April 2, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Now people everywhere can bring “Moneyball” to medicine. A few months after releasing their global numbers in The Lancet, the same scientists supplied the underlying figures for 187 nations. These statistics will be updated again later this year. At last report, in the United States, measured by DALYs, the third-largest health problem was low back pain. Fifth is major depressive disorders. Eleventh is neck pain. Thirteenth is anxiety disorders. None of these maladies kill anyone directly, so they don’t even show up on a list of leading killers. But they still cause huge amounts of pain and suffering, and cost our economy billions of dollars in lost productivity.

When will low back pain get the research funds and attention given to lung cancer, just below it in a DALY ranking? The toll from major depressive disorder, No. 5, is estimated to be 20 percent worse than that from stroke. Why don’t we promote early detection in the same way, on public billboards and ad campaigns? Health loss from anxiety disorders is estimated to be 80 percent higher than that from breast cancer. Do advocates for anxiety treatment even have their own colored ribbon?

The entire article is here.