Your Medical Mind

How To Decide What Is Right For You

Dr. Jerome Groopman

Dr. Pamela Hartzband.


Making the right medical choices is harder than ever. Whether we’re deciding to take a cholesterol drug or choosing a cancer treatment, we are overwhelmed by information from all sides: our doctors’ recommendations, dissenting expert opinions, confusing statistics, conflicting media reports, the advice of friends, claims on the Internet, and a never ending stream of drug company ads. Your Medical Mind shows us how to chart a clear path through this sea of confusion. Drs. Groopman and Hartzband reveal that each of us has a set of deeply rooted beliefs whose profound influence we may not realize when we make medical decisions. How much trust we place in authority figures, in statistics or in other patients’ stories, in science and technology or in natural healing, whether we seek the most or the least treatment - all are key factors that shape our choices. Recognizing our preferences and the external factors that might lead our thinking astray can make a dramatic, even life-saving, difference in our medical decision-making. When conflicting information pulls us back and forth between options, when we feel pressured by doctors or loved ones to make a particular choice, or when we have no previous experience to guide us through a crisis, Your Medical Mind will prove an essential companion. The authors interviewed scores of patients who have struggled with situations such as these. They also drew on research and insights from doctors, psychologists, economists, and other experts to help reveal the array of forces that can aid or impede our thinking. They show us the subtle strategies drug advertisers use to influence our choices: they unveil the extreme—sometimes dangerously misleading—power of both narratives and statistics. And they help us understand how to improve upon a universal human shortcoming — assessing the future impact of the decisions we make now. Jerome Groopman, a New Yorker writer and bestselling author, is an oncologist who guides his patients through life-or-death decisions. Pamela Hartzband is a noted endocrinologist and educator at Harvard Medical School who helps patients make critical decisions about their long-term health. As patients, the authors have very different preferences, yet they are united when conveying the book’s groundbreaking message: we can cut through the confusion and arrive at decisions that serve us best.