Book Review: Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What is Right for You by Jerome Groopman, M.D. and Pamela Hartzband, M.D.

Book Review: Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What is Right for You by Jerome Groopman, M.D. and Pamela Hartzband, M.D.

One of the most important aspects of this book is how timely it is. With so many Baby Boomers developing health problems, or assisting their parents with health problems, a book that helps people consider how they make health decisions about themselves is a good idea. Groopman and Hartzband make the point that a patient’s preferences regarding treatment should match that person’s values and way of living. A second important message of this book is that one’s preferences regarding treatment can change because, as we age, both our values and our way of living may change.

What are we left with: People, keep talking to your doctor and loved ones regarding your preferences for treatment and doctors, keep talking to your patients. The authors do clearly make the point that loved one’s wishes and the patient’s wishes can diverge and that it is the patient’s wishes that are most important.

The best chapter in the book was that on End of Life Care. In considering this controversial topic, the authors consider the Study to Understand Prognoses and Preferences for Outcomes and Risks of Treatment, that is the SUPPORT Study. The aim of this study was “To rigourously evaluate measures that would improve end-of-life decision making and to reduce the number of patients dying in Intensive Care Units, on ventilators and in pain.” The study considered the circumstances of approximately 5,000 patients and is also worth reading, especially if you are a physician.

One strength of this book is the bibliography, included in detail at the end of each chapter. A second was the capacity of the authors to thoughtfully examine different perspectives.

I am someone who jealously guards my bookshelf space, knowing that the Ottawa Public Library has a great collection and, while I read the library’s copy of this book originally, I liked it so much that I went out and bought my own copy. I don’t know if I considered Your Medical Mind so important as to keep it with me if I were stranded on a desert island, but I would want it if I had to make a critical personal medical decision and I would gladly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in that position.

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