Fact vs. Opinion. In today’s world of healthcare there are so many statements that are made by health professionals. Is that statement a “fact” or an “opinion”? You may not know the difference at the moment, therefore we tend to accept everything the professional says as a fact. One of the reasons for that is the statement comes from a person of authority, so it must be true. Now, I am not putting down health professionals, but we as recipients of this care must take responsibility for the direction of that care.
What’s The Difference?
In life, and especially in our health journey, there are challenges and rewards. We celebrate the rewards and fear the challenges because the challenges can involve so many unknowns. Do we really know whether it is a fact vs. opinion? How do we deal with it? Should we accept it; with absolute truth or skepticism? Hence, it should be a little bit of both. So let’s take a deeper dive into the facts and opinions.
The Diagnosis, the FACT
“You have cancer.” “You have diabetes.” Webster defines as diagnosis as “the art or act of identifying a disease from its signs and symptoms.” This identification may be specific or a generalization. What kind of cancer do you have? Diabetes, is it type 1 or type 2? Do the specifics really matter? Sometimes they do. But the reality is, regardless whether the diagnosis is specific or general, correct or incorrect, it is a “fact”. It is information that has reality behind it. It’s tangible.
The Prognosis, the OPINION
“You have 6 months to live.” “You have a 60% chance of a 5 year survival.” That is a prognosis and Webster defines it as how a situation is likely to turn out. “Likely”, not “definitely”, is the key difference, hence, an opinion. An opinion that is based on the knowledge, experience, and ability of the person rendering it. You might say that is based on facts, but there can be tremendous variability and uncertainty in those facts.
I’ll bet that most people believe both the diagnosis and the prognosis are facts because they are given by a doctor, a professional, a person of authority. Certainly they must know what they are talking about, right? The reality is that it may not be accurate. The diagnosis was a fact based on a pathology report or a lab or an x-ray, usually based on data. The prognosis is not a fact, but maybe a collection of variable inconclusive data. Hence, it is a professional opinion. It is a conclusion that the doctor arrived at based on statistical evidence that exists considering the stage of your disease and other factors. What is involved is what the medical literature says, and various available treatments, conventional or experimental, but it doesn’t take you into account.
You Are the Most Important Variable
Yes, you are the most important variable. A variable that cannot be measured. There is a power within you that can make a significant difference. Your biology, you and your attitude, you and your will to live play a crucial role. Now, again, I am not putting down the doctors or the professionals involved with your care. Don’t forget, I am one myself and, as a doctor, that is why I actually believe that a prognosis is a calculated opinion, but not a fact.
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