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Following Orders: Obedience to Authority Figures in Medicine


When your doctor urges you to do something said to benefit your health, do you obey? If not, why not? This blog thread is about how my visitors feel about following orders from those who might be considered as “authority figures in medicine”. What follows is a series of questions, a sort of a survey.

What do you consider as an order? “Stop your smoking?” “Loose weight” Do you look at a prescription written for you as an order?

If you tend to avoid following orders, is it because you disbelieve the benefit, it is impractical to carry out the order or you believe in personal decisional autonomy and you refuse to follow health orders by others, particularly those who appear as authority? Would you first want to know if those giving you the order would or have followed it themselves?  How do you look at a doctor who is giving you not an order but giving you advice? Or how about a recommendation?  Do you consider advice differently than an order? If so, what do you see as a difference between recommendation or advice and an order from a personal point of view? Should recommendation or advice be more acceptable to you than an order? Would you consider following such advice based on the professional responsibilities of the authority? For example, would you be more likely to follow advice from a nurse or a pharmacist than from your physician? Or how about from the next door neighbor? Would the neighbor’s personal medical experience represent to you an “authority”?

Do you look upon certain members of the news media who speak about health issues as authority? Would you consider following their advice on their subject? How about pharmaceutical company advertisements? Do you consider the ads as representing the advice of a medical authority? When the ad says for a product “talk to your doctor”, would you be willing to do that?

A lot of questions but without answers from my visitors  there won’t be much more to learn from this thread! So.. should I order your responses??  ..Maurice.

Graphic: My photograph of an exercise session, Santa Monica Beach, CA. Feb. 2013.

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