Accepted Paper:

Contestation between evidence-based medicine and' lifestylisation' of medicine: The case of online genetic testing  


Paula Saukko (Loughborough University)

Paper long abstract:

This presentation discusses the way in which new health or lifestyle products, such as health foods, mobile health 'apps' and online diagnostic tests, challenge current evidence-based medicine. Drawing on Jewson's and Armstrong's classical notions of medicine, I suggest that the lifestyle products contest classical notions of health and illness in their marketing strategies, the way in which they configure their customers and in the regulatory realm. The marketing of the new products challenge the evidence-based notion of health and illness, frequently presenting hedged claims based on speculative evidence and user commentaries. Lifestyle products also do not configure their customers as passive patients, riddled with anxiety, but as co-creators of products and services, driven not only by health concerns but also pleasure. These novel conceptions of health and illness, fuelled by consumer culture and digital media, frequently end up at loggerheads with evidence-based traditional notions in the regulatory realm. To illustrate the differences and struggles between classical evidence based medicine and the push to 'lifestylise' medicine I will discuss the case of the online genetic testing company 23andMe, whose 'whole genome' test dominated the market until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned it in November 2013.

Panel E2
Coproduction of emerging biomedical technologies