Traditionally, the relationship between physicians and patients had been simple and well defined. We had a physician on one side of the equation who was a beneficent and caring individual whose main concern was to cure the patient of his or her ailments. Then we had a patient who was usually characterized as a person who fully trusted and respected his or her physician and would be very grateful for his or her help in the treatment of any diseases.
In other words, whenever the patient suffered from any ailment or just felt that something was not right with his or her body, it could right away be expected that the first person he or she would run to would be his or her physician. The primary reason for such an attitude was that only the physician knew what to do. Developments during the 21st century, however, changed all these. The better informed patient of today does not immediately trust a physician.
In fact, when told about a physician’s diagnosis, it is now customary for the patient to seek a second opinion especially when the disease having been diagnosed is of major concern or is in need of a major surgery. In other words, the physician has ceased to be the only person who knows what to do. The internet has been a major contributor to this major change. Everybody has now the capability to conduct research and better understand diseases and their possible cure and use the knowledge to argue with physicians. The internet, however, does more than just broaden people’s knowledge about diseases.
It has also been a leading advocate of the value of healthy living, providing how-to tips and urging people to avoid getting sick by leading a healthy life. Moreover, the internet has also turned into a major advertising medium being utilized by the advocates of alternative medicine which has proven to be comparatively cheaper than traditional medicine. The patients, however, could not be blamed for turning to the internet and other sources to broaden their knowledge in the face of the spiraling health care costs.
When medical practitioners and health providers have evolved into profit-hungry entrepreneurs, patients are forced to look for cheaper alternative treatments and preventive approaches. This situation has given reason to the emergence of health psychology as a career. Health psychologists are teaching people not only how to live healthy lives and avoid being sick but also how to deal with their illnesses in cases where prevention could no longer help them (Kuhlberg, 2000).
Kuhlberg, J. (2000). Careers in Health Psychology. Retrieved March 30, 2009, from http://www. wcupa. edu/_ACADEMICS/sch_cas. psy/Career_Paths/Health/career02. htm