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Abuse of Scientific Studies in Public Policy Determination

Eric A. Plaut, MD; Daniel X. Freedman, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(1):114. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780260116013.
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To the Editor.—  As government becomes more involved in health care, it seeks reliable data on which to base its decisions. It is unfortunate that the data are not always used appropriately. All too often political pressures have led to abuse of data derived from scientific studies. Currently, there are congressional and agency proposals to study the efficacy of psychotherapy to determine reimbursement for professional care. Apart from the unwarranted assumption of nonefficacy1 and numerous definitional and operational vagaries2 and apart from their failure to grasp the essence of all medical treatment, the reimbursement proposals have caused great concern with respect to the application of scientific data.3 The recent experience with bed-ceiling determination gives substance to that concern.The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, wishing to limit the number of general hospital beds for short-term care, contracted with the Institute of Medicine to study the issue.

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