I have expected medical providers to make treatment recommendations based on the best available evidence in peer-reviewed medical sources.
But it has become clear that many medical providers have made treatment recommendations colored by their political beliefs and internet misinformation. This is particularly true with the novel coronavirus, transgender youths and recently with the flu.
Early in the coronavirus pandemic, then-President Donald Trump recommended Americans start using hydroxychloroquine if they became infected. However, this recommendation was not made with the endorsement of his medical team.
Politicization of medical care then became rampant. And another unproven medication (Ivermectin) became popular with health professionals who had conservative political beliefs.
Note that the American Medical Association in November 2021 and June 2022 became so concerned with medical misinformation spread by medical professionals on the internet that it issued statements emphasizing how factual information should be obtained by health professionals and it was unethical for physicians to spread false medical information such as that vaccines do not reduce deaths, that vaccines cause infertility or that vaccines have microchips in them. Clearly, the AMA differentiated between false information and opinions (such as should vaccines be mandated).
A recent study confirms this politicization. Health professionals with conservative political beliefs were five times more likely to recommend hydroxychloroquine than FDA-approved medications and vaccines. As death rates and hospitalizations have been significantly higher from COVID-19 in areas that voted heavily for Trump, there is evidence that this politization of medical care had tragic results.
As further evidence of how political ideology colors the evaluation of scientific evidence, look no further than gender-affirming medical care of transgender youths, which many conservative states are trying to ban. Note that Florida Surgean General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said, “When people don’t get to make decisions on their personal health, it is wrong.” Now that is exactly what he and Florida (and their review board is controlled by physicians supporting Gov. Ron DeSantis) is trying to do with transgender youths — prevent the parents and children from making personal medical decisions.
As a member of the American Psychological Association and after reviewing all peer-reviewed studies until February, I found it clear the gender-affirming medical care improves the mental health of transgender youths. While the conservative politicians and physicians say they are “protecting children,” the APA states that these bills are harming the mental health of transgender youths. Strict standards of care for transgender medical care should be followed.
The writer is a licensed psychologist.
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