Are you an introvert or extrovert? A thinker or a feeler? A cat person or a dog person?
Soon, a visit to the doctor's office could feel like taking an online personality quiz.
According to a recent post from The New York Times' opinion pages, "a growing body of research suggests that your personality can influence your health," meaning that doctors could use questions about social behaviors and other personal characteristics to design individualized care plans.
"The individual who has the disease is almost as important as the underlying disease itself," said Kavita Vedhara, a health psychology professor at the University of Nottingham, to the Times. "So if medicine treated not only the pathology but the person with the pathology, it would probably get more bang for its buck."
The post explored a variety of research studies, noting that some of the most interesting findings involve comparisons between introverts and extroverts.
For example, Vedhara's latest study showed that extraversion is associated with higher expression of the genes that promote inflammation, and that likely means members of the group have a more active immune system.
Although it's not yet clear how best to translate personality traits into health advice, the research studies are a part of what psychiatry professor Benjamin Chapman called a broader "personalized medicine movement."
Inspired, at least in part, by an increasingly personalized culture, where smartphone apps and wearable devices help people analyze their health-related and other choices, the movement is also a result of a growing sense that traditional medical techniques have begun to lose their luster.
Sandeep Jauhar, one of The Times' regular health commentators, wrote in March that, "A shift to more personalized medicine will be needed to continue to make the kind of progress to which patients and doctors have become accustomed," in an article titled, "The Diminishing Returns of Modern Medicine."
The push for personalized medicine is strong enough to merit its own organization, a group called the Personalized Medicine Coalition, founded in 2004.
Its website explains, "The mission of the PMC is to build the foundation that underpins the advancement of personalized medicine as a viable solution to the challenges of efficacy, safety and cost," lending its resources to create regulatory and financial pathways to more personalized medical care.
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