BMJ 11 Nov 2006

Most of us are willing to concede, with varying degrees of regret, that civilised nations need standing armies, and that for these to be effective, soldiers need to be trained to kill and to withstand the brutality of battle. We have come a long way from the attitudes towards mental collapse in battle crudely depicted in Pat Barker’s Regeneration, but psychological morbidity in soldiers after combat is still common. Might mental health screening prevent some of it? Probably not, according to this UK study.

995 What is it about the BMJ and useless interventions for knee pain? A few weeks ago it was hyping acupuncture, and now it is community physiotherapy and enhanced pharmacy review. Acupuncture claimed a weak effect at 12 months, whereas the alleged benefits of this latest package did not even last for 6 months. Nonetheless, just as acupuncture was hailed as the new cost-effective treatment for bad knees, so this paper gets an editorial about shifting the paradigm away from GP care. Well, that is what physiotherapists are for. They give us a break. Patients wait for a few months, get treated for a few weeks, and then come back to us. Then they wait a few more months to see an orthopaedic surgeon, in order to go on the waiting list for arthroscopic washout, another useless procedure. It all helps to pass the time.

Pleiotropic is a word which has yet to enter Black’s Medical Dictionary, but it is very popular across the waves. It means “doing a lot of different things