I found Andis Robezniek's Oct. 6 story on pediatricians' troubles with parents refusing vaccines to be quite interesting. Viewed from another perspective, physicians -- as extensions of the healthcare system -- are perhaps missing an opportunity to assist parents with legitimate concerns who, if given the right information and some confidence about its sources, might make a different decision.
There is a real gap for parents who are struggling to assimilate legitimate research data on vaccine effectiveness with a significant anecdotal body of information that casts doubt on the credibility of safety assertions. The fact is that these anecdotes cannot be dismissed; nor can the research.
The healthcare system's inability to deal with these types of information gaps is part of why consumers see themselves more and more as case managers, invoking their relationship with physicians as a decisionmaking tool rather than a top-down relationship in which they blindly follow health instructions.
The medical-training establishment fails to appreciate the strength of the force underlying this very real consumer trend. It is their loss, because the doctor-patient relationship will continue to be replaced by the doctor-consumer relationship.
Stephen Bolles, senior director, Consumer Health Initiatives, ACN Group/UnitedHealth Group, Golden Valley, Minn.