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About the Site:

This is the blog for the book Medical Decision Making: A Physician's Guide, by Alan Schwartz and George Bergus (Cambridge University Press, 2008). The book is now available from Cambridge University Press

About the Authors:

Alan Schwartz, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Medical Education and Pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, where he teaches and conducts research on physician and patient decision making.

George Bergus, M.D., M.A. is the Dr. William and Sondra Myers Family Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, and Co-Director of the Family Practice/Psychiatry Residency program. He holds a Certificate of Additional Qualification in Geriatrics.


Choosing doctors, choosing patients

September 30th, 2008 by Alan Schwartz

The September 30, 2008 New York Times has a new feature section on “Decoding your Health”, which includes, among other articles, “Searching for Clarify: A Primer on Medical Studies” by Gina Kolata, an outstanding science writer. It also includes “You Can Find Dr. Right, With Some Effort” by Roni Caryn Rabin, which offers sound advice about how patients might go about selecting physicians.

The problem of choosing a physician is not a trivial one.

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Posted in Decision Making, Goals of medical care | 1 Comment »

30th annual meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making

September 22nd, 2008 by Alan Schwartz
The 30th annual meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM) will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA on October 18-22, 2008. All the relevant detail can be found at

The meeting theme this year is “Comparative effectiveness research” – that’s research in how to (surprise) study the effectiveness of different medical treatments in comparison to one another (as opposed to comparison to placebo, for example). In addition to the usual offerings of high quality presentations and short courses on topics in medical decision making, several unusual symposia are scheduled. These include presentations by senior health policy aides to both the Obama and McCain campaigns, a symposium on decision making and medical education, and a cross-over symposium by members of the Society of Judgment and Decision Making.

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Posted in Decision Making | No Comments »

Vaccines and evidence

September 22nd, 2008 by Alan Schwartz has recently reviewed a new book by pediatrician Dr. Paul Offit on the anti-MMR (and anti-thimerisol) vaccine movement. Back in February this year, a friend of mine wrote to me that she was “on the fence” about vaccinating her infant. As she put it, “Whom are we to believe?…I’d be interested in anything compelling on either side so I could just move on either way.  My confidence in institutions is at an all time low.”

My response to her (revised for this blog) reviewed some evidence, much of which also appears in the Salon article:

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Posted in Beyond the individual, Decision Making, Understanding uncertainty | 3 Comments »