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Book and Media Reviews
April 4, 2007

What the Doctor Didn’t Say: The Hidden Truth About Medical Research

JAMA. 2007;297(13):1494-1497. doi:10.1001/jama.297.13.1496-b

Menikoff and Richards purport to “explain how someone interested in making the best decisions about their health care should deal with the common scenario in which there is some uncertainty about the effectiveness or safety of the treatments being offered. One common situation in which that takes place is when a person is asked to be in a research study” (p 4). The goal of this book is to help patients manage the “fact that choosing to be in a study is often a bad choice” (p 4). To avoid making a bad choice, patients should ask themselves: “Should I be treated with standard care even if it isn't that good? Should I participate in a research study? Are there other treatment options I should be thinking about that my doctor hasn't mentioned?” (p xi). The message to patients is that information is being “hidden” from them, because “if patients were fully informed about their medical treatment options, it would be harder to get them to enroll in research studies” (p xiii). This book promises to “empower patients in a variety of ways, sometimes giving them information that can have life or death consequences” (p xii).

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