It would be dangerous for the general public to provide advice on 'what they reckon' would be a good treatment or a good guideline for medical advice; and that has clearly caused problems in the past. However, some of the major breakthroughs in medicine have occured by the non medical world (tribesmen knowing which plants to use, a sufferer identifying something that always solves their medical problem).

How can an individual seek to get an idea investigated as a potential treatment or seek a change in a particular guideline?

I understand how the principle of effectiveness and the do no harm principle affects what treatments and guidance are given but I also strongly believe that individuals can provide unique solutions themselves.

1 Answer 1


Here’s one way, assuming your suggestion is relevant to the UK.


Though generally most lay people are not well placed to come up with tractable research questions. Most clinicians can’t do it either.

  • Thank you @rhialto that looks like a good form, I'll use it for some of the solutions that I have for some of the problems faced. I strongly disagree with you about lay people not being well placed to come up with research questions though; they are the ones with the problems so they will know the problem better than anyone else.
    – atreeon
    May 1, 2021 at 9:06
  • @atreeon they know the problem - but few have sufficient grasp of what’s already known to formulate a tractable research question. For most suggestions via that form the answer is already known - and the suggestion either doesn’t work or isn’t implementable in or relevant to the UK. Or it’s completely divorced from the reality of physiology. There is the occasional gem, but most of it isn’t novel.
    – rhialto
    May 1, 2021 at 9:16
  • 1
    I agree in part; the lay person wouldn't know if the research has already been carried out. However they will know better than anyone whether the guidance they've been given has solved their medical problem and that either comes down to poor general guidance or poor application by a medical professional (which hopefully should be rare).
    – atreeon
    May 1, 2021 at 9:34

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