GUT decision-making

I was recently at a workshop for National Science Foundation Principal Investigators focused on how to communicate research to the public and the media. One of the suggestions was to develop a three-word summary of the principle message of your research work. This is hard.

Evidence-based diagnosis

I’m writing from Philadelphia, at the annual meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making. I’ve just had the pleasure of attending a great short course entitled “How to discuss evidence-based diagnosis with experienced clinicians (and avoid giving EBM at bad name)”, taught by Tom Newman and Mike Kohn from UCSF.

Choosing doctors, choosing patients

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 […]

30th annual meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making

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 […]

Vaccines and evidence 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 […]

Comparative effectiveness and evidence-based medicine

A strange commentary in the Washington Times this week entitled “‘Evidence-based’ Rx miscues” makes claims about evidence-based medicine (EBM): both what the terms means and what it implies for health policy. The author suggests that EBM is equivalent to “one-size-fits-all” medicine that removes physician autonomy in pursuit of a “political imperative to cut costs – […]

Apples, Cheese, and Nudges

“Buy on apples, sell on cheese” is an old proverb among wine merchants. Taking a bite of an apple before tasting wine makes it easier to detect flaws in the wine, and the buyer who does so will not as easily make the mistake of paying more than the wine is worth. Cheese, on the […]

Two stories about testing

A bit of synchronicity strikes, as I come across two different pieces from quite different sources on the question of “even if we have a test that provides probabilities of future health states, do we really want to know?” The first is journalistic. National Public Radio’s program Talk of the Nation did a segment on […]

FLIP on pharmaceuticals

The November 2007 issue of Consumer Reports features an article entitled “Treatment traps to avoid.” The article focuses on unnecessary and overused health care treatments (in the United States). One major emphasis of the report is the emphasis on the approval of new drugs and the marketing process for drugs in the U.S. in general, […]

Annual meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making

The 29th annual meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM) will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA on October 24-27, 2007. All the relevant detail can be found at This is the meeting to attend if you’re interested in medical decision science; presentations typically focus on clinical applications, methodological advances in decision […]