I'm not referring to the ethics of certain medical practices. Just like "why doctors use Technique A as opposed to Technique B".

Also, I already saw this post about whether health practices are on-topic, but it doesn't seem to have any clear consensus, so I thought I'd ask more specifically about my question here.

  • so, any consensus here?
    – Ooker
    Jun 14, 2015 at 11:58
  • I don't know about consensus, but I accepted @rumtscho's answer back on June 9th.
    – user693
    Jun 15, 2015 at 2:59

2 Answers 2


I frankly dislike this kind of question. The problem is that not only is the answer frequently not known, but worse, people love to make up pet theories about the reasons and post them as if they were truth. Then others see them, think "oh, this makes sense" and upvote. It doesn't matter if this is the real reason, people seem to love to participate in this myth building without giving it a second thought. UX is especially plagued by these questions.

If you are to ask why a practice works, then this is a good question and should be accepted. But if your question is of the type Why did a doctor do X and not Y in a case where both X and Y would have been feasible... well, we have no idea why. It could have been a hunch of his, him having a contract with the lab which does X, or he learning in med school a lot about X and very little about Y, or any other of a thousand reasons. But nobody here can tell you. Nevertheless, there will be a bunch of people who will tell you their guess, presenting it as truth.

Even when the question is on the tendency of choosing a practice in a population of doctors, it doesn't work well. Sure, these are interesting questions. But they would need sufficient historical research before they can be answered. And the answer is often boring: "This is how the first guy did it and it became so widespread it got to be a quasi standard, and from then on, nobody had the reason to change something that works, even if a later option would have been marginally better". But the votes tend to go to the people who offer clever ideas, even when they are untrue.

Maybe this site could do better than UX in this regard, because of the culture of not-upvoting answers without references, and not offering simple guesses as answers. But in this case, I don't think you'll even get answers. The real ones are hard to find and not very useful anyway.

  • You make good points. Thank you. See, this is why I posted in Meta Health first.
    – user693
    Jun 9, 2015 at 0:27

Yes, I think these are absolutely on topic.

Doctors are generally expected to have a reason for their treatment choices based on:

  • Research data
  • Consensus of experts
  • Personal clinical experience
  • Theoretical likelihood of benefit
  • Practical considerations

One or all of these might be relevant for any given question. All can be explained in an answer and (with the possible exception of the third) be tied to reliable references. Such answers stand to educate the reader about physiology, biomedical research, and the practice of medicine. This is at the heart of what Health.SE is about.

  • But I don't think my question will necessarily help with health-related questions... It's less one of those "Why do you perform CPR this way as opposed to that way" and more one of those "Why do you use BIC instead of Pilot for your pens?" questions... :/
    – user693
    Jun 7, 2015 at 5:28
  • @SarahofGaia - Oh, if they’re about ‘practices that doctors do’ but those ‘practices’ are unrelated to medicine, then I suppose they would be off topic.
    – Susan
    Jun 7, 2015 at 7:17
  • Oh, it's related to medicine. But I just don't see how it could help in a person's health-related decisions. I just want to know why most medical professionals do a certain thing one way as opposed to another. But overall, both ways are nearly just as effective. To be more specific, it has to do with measurement units.
    – user693
    Jun 7, 2015 at 21:29
  • If it’s related to the practice of medicine, I think it’s on topic. Maybe you should just ask it so we understand a little better where you’re coming from.
    – Susan
    Jun 8, 2015 at 1:07
  • Well, I was somewhat worried that if I asked it, I would be told it's not on-topic since this is meta health not health.
    – user693
    Jun 8, 2015 at 2:40
  • But okay. Basically, I want to know why so many medical professionals—not only in the US, but (as far as I'm aware) in other places throughout the world—use mmHg for blood pressure readings as opposed to kPa. After all, not only is mmHg antiquated, but frankly it's easier to use kPa since it's a smaller number (easier to remember). For example, 120/80 mmHg is the same as 16/10 kPa.
    – user693
    Jun 8, 2015 at 2:43

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