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Book and Media Reviews
February 3, 2010

Compartments: How the Brightest, Best Trained, and Most Caring People Can Make Judgments That Are Completely and Utterly Wrong

JAMA. 2010;303(5):459-460. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.51

Compartments is a unique text that explores mechanisms that drive misunderstanding. The title reflects Steven Feldman's thesis that individuals view the world from within their own compartments and cannot see beyond their walls.1 Individuals also communicate through their behavior toward one another, both verbally and nonverbally. Faulty communication spawns misunderstanding, often the linchpin of conflict. For example, poor instructions can result in a patient not understanding how often to take a medication, which in turn can trigger poor adherence to therapy. At every stage of a conflict, clear communication among parties may still reduce unwise decisions and costs.

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