Making Informed Medical Decisions: Where to Look and How to Use What You Find

Li Liu, MD
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

front cover Authors: Nancy Oster, Lucy Thomas, Darol Joseff, Susan Love
Publisher: O'Reilly & Associates
ISBN: 1-56592-459-2

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Within the policy context of the drive towards evidence-based practice, it is important to understand what the medical decision making process is. The information revolution triggered by the rapid growth of the Internet has allowed patients to access a rapidly expanding volume of information. However, how to use the information in print, on the Internet, and through contact with medical experts to make a sound medical decision is a major challenge that many patients have to face.

Although Making Informed Medical Decisions: Where to Look and How to Use What You Find was written for a general patient population, some cancer patients may find it informative in their decision making as well. The book is written by Lucy Thomas, a medical librarian, Nancy Oster, an expert on Internet medical research, and nephrologist Darol Joseff, MD. It is ironic that within two days of completing writing this book, one of the co-authors Lucy Thomas was diagnosed with oral cancer. She had used her own book's advice to research information and to work with her doctors on her treatment plan.

Recent changes in the health care environment make it imperative that patients and their families take more responsibility in their decision making. Patients are oft- times overwhelmed by information obtained from various sources, as well as by the associated medical terminology, and sometimes conflicting recommendations from different physicians. Making Informed Medical Decisions: Where to Look and How to Use What You Find can certainly serve as a "hands on" tool, enabling the reader to:

  • Interpret medical literatures and understand how statistics works
  • Understand "standard care" and other treatment options
  • Look for clinical trials
  • Explore complementary and alternative therapies
  • Learn from others who have similar illness and share information with support groups
  • Discuss and review information with physicians
  • Finally, make your decision.

The entire book is extremely well organized and easily readable. Oncolink highly recommends this book.