This week, we’re continuing the breakdown of Psych/Soc, specifically focused on the topic of medicalization. You will probably find a surprising number of questions on the MCAT regarding sociological relationships to health and disease. As always, we’re joined by Clara from Next Step Test Prep.
[02:04] Passage 6
There is increased concern about the medicalization of health and treatment of illness. In particular, there is concern that conditions are being pathologized and over-treated with medication. Characterizing medical conditions as diseases and unnecessarily treating them with medicine can have negative consequences on people’s health and on health care budgets, among other consequences.
One reason for the medicalization of health is that treating a condition with medicine is relatively easier than fostering lifestyle or behavioral changes. Another reason is that health consumers are becoming increasingly aware of diseases because of access to information, such as through the internet, leading them to perceive concern with their health and to desire treatment, at times when not appropriate. A final reason is that the pharmaceutical industry has a financial incentive to encourage the diagnosis of disease and prescription of medicine, leading to pressure on medical professionals and the public to respond accordingly.
This pressure often comes in many forms, such as through advertising medicine. Researchers sought to investigate the influence that the terminology used to describe a disease had on individuals. Participants were parents who brought their infants to a medical provider for gastrointestinal issues the infants were having. Half of the parents were told the issue was a “condition” (Condition Group) and the other half were told that the infants were experiencing “GERD,” standing for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD Group). In addition, half of the participants in the Control Group and GERD Group were told that medicine for this medicine was ineffective (Told Ineffective), while the other half were not given information about the medicine (No Information). The number of parents who desired the medication is presented in the following figures by groups.
[04:20] Question 31
What does the passage suggest would be the most effective way to decrease the medicalization of health?
(A) Give patients extensive information about disorders
(B) Encourage preventive measures
(C) Use the scientific names of diseases
(D) Increase the cost of medicine
The more you think about questions like this, the more you’ll get confused. Just pick the one that’s most logically appealing to you in the beginning and then move on. The correct answer here is B. Paragraph 2 talks about the reasons for the medicalization of health. One of the reasons they cited is that health consumers are becoming increasingly aware of diseases because of access to information. So A is out.
C is just really implied with the third paragraph when GERD was mentioned. They used this really fancy sounding medical term so it might make people think they need medication.
The increase in cost of medicine was mentioned in the passage when they said that the pharmaceutical industry was having a financial incentive. Not only is the increased cost of medicine a bad thing because it costs more for people. Now, the pharmaceutical industry can stand to make even more money off a given medicine if they decide to sell it. Hence, the correct answer here is B.
[07:52] Question 32
Participants who report that the GERD diagnosis reminded them of other serious disease upon which they base their desire for medication are using what heuristic?
(A) Familiarity heuristic
(B) Availability heuristic
(C) Representative heuristic
(D) Anchoring heuristic
These are all four heuristics that we need to know for the MCAT. So it’s less helpful to try to use their names. But the correct answer here is B. Heuristics are flawed cognitive processes.
Familiarity heuristic is the tendency people have to prefer familiar things. So this choice is not relevant here.
Availability heuristic is the ability to look for information to support a decision and we tend to use the information that is just immediately available to us.
Representativeness heuristic is the tendency that if you see something new, you tend to judge it based on the prototype of that object.
Anchoring heuristic is the tendency wherein as we make decisions, we tend to use anchor points like an initial piece of information.
[13:19] Question 33
In what reason for the medicalization of health is the patient not fulfilling their sick role?
(A) In being exposed to pharmaceutical advertising
(B) In seeking out information about their condition
(C) In not behaving in healthier ways
(D) In seeking medicine from their doctor even when it is not seen as effective
The correct answer here is C. There are two parts to the question. First is the reason for the medicalization of health. The second part is the patient not fulfilling their sick role. The sick role is a term that you should know which makes the question a lot harder if you don’t know it.
The question doesn’t say, which of these is not a reason for the medicalization of health. But what it’s really asking is the reason for the medicalization of health but goes against the sociological concept of the sick role.
The sick role is the concept of what a sick person should do in our society. This refers to people with chronic conditions so people who are sick for a longer period of time. Additionally, a person in the sick role may not be expected to do as much. They may not be expected to go to work. But they are expected to act in ways that are more likely to keep them healthy. So they’re expected to listen to their doctor or take their medication.
C is perfect because it’s a reason for medicalization. And the person is not fulfilling their sick role because as an “ideal” sick person, they should try to be healthier. But they aren’t.
[19:41] Question 35
If the study were modified to include a measure of the number of questions asked of the doctor by parents, how would this change the design of the study?
(A) The levels of the dependent variable would be increased
(B) The levels of the independent variable would be increased
(C) A new dependent variable would be added
(D) A new independent variable would be added
The correct answer here is C. The four groups we saw here in the passage were the previous independent variables. By independent, it means that the variable has been manipulated by the experimenter. And by dependent, it involves measuring.
So now, we’re choosing between C and D. The parents are manipulating here but they’re measuring it so it’s dependent.
[25:32] Next Step Test Prep
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