My recent posts have discussed some of the difficulties of modern medical decision-making in the context of PSA testing for prostate cancer. A new book by Harvard oncologist Jerome Groopman and Harvard endocrinologist Pamela Hartzband offers help to Healthy Survivors: Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What is Right for You.
As described in the NYTimes book review by Daniel Levitin, this book "aims to empower patients to become active participants, indeed negotiators, in decisions about their health care...I suspect insurance companies, H.M.O.’s and more than a few doctors are going to hate this book."
I, for one, think the book is terrific. (I'm halfway through, but felt it fit in with the ongoing posts). The authors make it easy to understand key concepts such as "risk for disease" and "number needed to treat," as well as the impact of various types of bias on our understanding of risk. These and others basic concepts are essential for making wise decisions that reflect your values and desires.
Levitin summarizes it well: "Groopman and Hartzband’s important book will help doctor and patient learn how each of us navigates our own tolerance for risk, thus improving outcomes on both sides of the examination table."