Modelling the spread of disease-treatment
Mark Tanaka, a mathematical biologist at the University of South Wales (NSW, Australia) and colleagues Jeremy Kendal and Kevin Laland of the UK, have tackled the intruiging question of how ill people decide on a course of treatment for their disease.
The researchers used cultural evolution modelling and stochastic methodologies to evaluate models of how treatments of disease propagate (cute, since epidemiologists usually study the spread of disease, and not the spread of cures for diseases).
They note that "there is currently no compelling explanation for the prevalence of low-efficacy treatments," adding that "while several established cultural evolution models explain the persistence of maladaptive traits, none are credible alternative explanations for the existence of ineffective or maladaptive selfmedicative treatments on the scale observed."
The models the team develop "show that the treatments that spread are not necessarily those that are most efficacious at curing the ailment, and explain how 'superstitious treatments' with little efficacy and even maladaptive practices can spread under broad conditions."
Their article, "From Traditional Medicine to Witchcraft: Why Medical Treatments Are Not Always Efficacious," appears in the April 15 edition of PLoS ONE and is freely available online.
nothing more to see. please move along.