The impact of personal pseudoscientific beliefs in the pursuit for non-evidence-based health care

Natália Pasternak Taschner, Carlos Orsi, Paulo Almeida, Ronaldo Pilati


INTRODUCTION: Pseudoscientific beliefs are widespread in society and are influenced by several factors. The endorsement of alternative medicine treatments, mostly not evidence based, has relevant negative impacts on health care public policies. The understanding of the impact of pseudoscientific beliefs on the endorsement of alternative treatments is a relevant issue in this matter. OBJECTIVES: We aim at describing scientific and pseudoscientific beliefs and its impact on the endorsement of evidence and non-evidence-based health care treatments. METHOD: We conducted a survey in a representative sample of 2,091 participants from all Brazil geopolitical regions and 130 different cities. We measured knowledge about health treatments, including alternative medicine treatments, and trust in each treatment, if treatment had been previously sought, if treatments should be funded by the public health system, among other issues. We also measured beliefs in scientific and pseudoscientific claims using a 5-point Likert agreement scale with 9 items with two factors: Scientific beliefs and Pseudoscientific beliefs. RESULTS: Our results show that most part of the sample recognizes conventional medicine as a treatment (64.5%), but also alternative medicine practices such as homeopathy (69.2%), and spiritual therapy (68.6%). We found that support of all alternative medicine treatments is significantly predicted by pseudoscientific beliefs (betas regression coefficients ranging from .13 to .38 all p <.01). On the other hand, the support of evidence-based medicine is rooted in scientific beliefs (beta = .12, p<.01). CONCLUSION: Our results have shown a high rate of prevalence of pseudoscientific beliefs related to non-evidence-based health treatments. It also shreds a favorable evidence that general pseudoscientific beliefs are relevant to assess the endorsement of non-evidence-based healthcare.


Alternative health care. Public Health Care Policy. Beliefs. Pseudoscience.

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Copyright (c) 2020 Natália Pasternak Taschner, Carlos Orsi, Paulo Almeida, Ronaldo Pilati

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