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Stigmatization of Not-Knowing as a Public Health Tool

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 March 2021

Abstract

Predictive interventions and practices are becoming a defining feature of medicine. The author points out that according to the inner logic and external supporters (i.e., state, industry, and media) of modern medicine, participating in healthcare increasingly means participating in knowing, sharing, and using of predictive information. At the same time, the author addresses the issue that predictive information may also have problematic side effects like overdiagnosis, health-related anxiety, and worry as well as impacts on personal life plans. The question is raised: Should we resort to stigmatization if doing so would increase participation in predictive interventions, and thereby save healthcare costs and reduce morbidity and premature death? The paper concludes that even if such a strategy cannot be ruled out in some forms and contexts, we ought to be very cautious about the dangers of shame and stigmatization.

Type
Special Section: Decision Making and Leadership in Crises and Beyond
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

Acknowledgments: I am indebted to Niklas Juth, Gert Helgesson, and John-Stewart Gordon for helpful comments and discussions, as well as to Sean Winkler for linguistic edits. An earlier version of this article was presented at the International Bioethics Retreat in Paris, June 2019.

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