Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What Is Right for You

Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What Is Right for You

by Jerome Groopman, Pamela Hartzband


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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 technology or in natural healing, and 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 lifesaving, 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 to be 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 explain 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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594203114
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 09/20/2011
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 9.46(w) x 6.38(h) x 1.05(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jerome Groopman, M.D., and Pamela Hartzband, M.D.,are on the staff of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, both in Boston. They have collaborated on articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New England Journal of Medicine, among other publications. Groopman, a staff writer for The New Yorker, is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestseller How Doctors Think.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Where Am I in the Numbers? 9

2 Believers and Doubters 31

3 But is it Best for Me? 49

4 Regret 69

5 Neighborly Advice 87

6 Autonomy and Coping 113

7 Decision Analysis Meets Reality 137

8 End of Life 153

9 When the Patient Can't Decide 185

Conclusion 211

Acknowledgments 219

Notes 223

Selected Bibliography 281

Index 301

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Alter

"For anything that ails us--from high cholesterol to cancer--treatment options usually fall into a frustrating "gray area."Groopman and Hartzband provide a brilliant guide to navigating some of the most important decisions of our lives." --(Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One, columnist at Bloomberg View)

Dan Ariely

"Groopman and Hartzband have done a remarkable job at dissecting the external and internal factors that influence our healthcare decisions. This book should be required reading for doctors and patients alike."--(Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality, Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University)

Daniel Gilbert

"This important and riveting book could change—and perhaps even save—your life."--(Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University)

Sherwin B. Nuland

"Bringing the deep sensitivity and outstanding clinical skill that characterize all of his writings, Jerome Groopman has joined forces with Pamela Hartzband to bring us a message of wisdom and far-ranging importance. The complexities that face any patient in making personal medical decisions are here described, analyzed and clarified by two master physicians, who guide us with empathy, sincere caring and wide experience." --(Sherwin Nuland, author of How We Die: Reflections On Life's Final Chapter; Lecturer in Yale College and Retired Clinical Professor of Surgery.)

Ron Chernow

"At a time when health insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and government bureaucrats seek to find magical solutions in metrics and standardized care, Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband remind us that medicine is a profoundly human---and hence inevitably complex---enterprise. By elucidating the often subtle and varied ways that patients make decisions, they will help to sharpen the thinking of any reader facing a medical situation, however grave or pedestrian. This utterly fascinating book, packed with gripping case studies, presents a timely and finely nuanced analysis of a hitherto overlooked subject." --(Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Washington and Alexander Hamilton)

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Your Medical Mind 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Sidewinder More than 1 year ago
In this book one will not find quick tips and definitive advice for making difficult medical decisions. What one will find, however, is a very articulate, well reasoned, and compelling case for why incontrovertible facts are elusive in modern medicine. The authors state and prove brilliantly the necessary subjectivity of medical decisions. While this book will surely not give comfort to those seeking hard and fast answers, it does provide a pathway for considering and coping with difficult decisions.
DHealy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Doesn't live up to its title
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