Your doctor suggests you take a drug to lower your blood pressure, but you’ve read that it has risky side effects for some patients. Do you take the drug given the risks it entails, or do you risk living with high blood pressure? The answers to questions like this can be maddeningly—even dangerously—elusive, because our best interests are often hidden by our doctors’ preferences, drug companies’ propaganda, the vagaries of the healthcare system, and especially by our own anxieties, ideals, personal histories, and cognitive foibles.
As patients, each of us falls at some point along each of three spectrums: believer vs. doubter, naturalistic vs. technological, and narrative vs. numbers (that is, some put their faith in stories, others in statistics). Knowing where our personalities place us along these spectrums allows us to determine whether, say, a wait-and-see approach might make us feel better, physically and psychologically, than an intensive treatment, or whether our doctor is well or poorly suited to our needs and attitudes. Crucially, understanding our own personalities also alerts us to cognitive obstacles that might trip us up while making decisions about our care.
Drs. Groopman and Hartzband provide groundbreaking guidance any patient can use to tailor their medical choices to their own physical and emotional needs.
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For patient engagement, a must read
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