The case for intervention bias in the practice of medicine

Yale J Biol Med. 2013 Jun 13;86(2):271-80. Print 2013 Jun.


Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of possibly equal or more valid alternatives. In this paper, we present a series of conditional arguments to prove that intervention bias exists in the practice of medicine. We then explore its potential causes, consequences, and criticisms. We use the term to describe the bias on the part of physicians and the medical community to intervene, whether it is with drugs, diagnostic tests, non-invasive procedures, or surgeries, when not intervening would be a reasonable alternative. The recognition of intervention bias in medicine is critically important given today's emphasis on providing high-value care and reducing unnecessary and potentially harmful interventions.

Keywords: basic science; bias; contradicted findings; evidence-based medicine; medical reversal; observational studies; overtreatment; positive-outcome bias; randomized controlled trials.

MeSH terms

  • Bias*
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Professional Practice*