June 22/29, 2011, Vol 305, No. 24, pp 2493-2592
Health Advocacy Organizations and Evidence-Based Medicine
Sheila M. Rothman
[No abstract: first 150 words per JAMA convention]
Strong and independent not-for-profit advocacy organizations are vital to a democratic society. At their best, they stand apart from the interests of the marketplace and the government, helping to promote diverse public concerns. The scope of their activities is extensive. Some not-for-profit advocacy organizations spearhead campaigns to eliminate discriminatory legislation and improve the life chances of vulnerable groups. Others challenge economic interests to better protect the environment. Still others work to advance civil and human rights.
Health advocacy organizations are part of this sector. They speak for targeted populations affected by a variety of diseases such as epilepsy, breast cancer, mental illness, and autism. They effectively communicate their priorities to legislators, regulators, private and public funders, and the media. Their initiatives often highlight needs that might otherwise be overlooked. However, some health advocacy organizations, as shall be illustrated, are so committed to securing diagnostic and treatment interventions for their targeted …