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October 9, 1981

Medical Choices, Medical Chances: How Patients, Families, and Physicians Can Cope With Uncertainty

JAMA. 1981;246(15):1731. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320150071042

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Even though medicine has undergone numerous changes since Hippocrates' time, many would agree that one of his observations still holds true: "A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses."

In Medical Choices, Medical Chances, authors Harold Bursztajn, Richard I. Feinbloom, Robert M. Hamm, and Archie Brodsky examine how an understanding of the scientific theory behind medicine influences the thoughts and actions of physicians and patients as they make decisions that affect health and well-being.

These authors provide much evidence to support their belief that two approaches to practicing medicine currently affect health care. These "paradigms," however, are "shifting." The older, mechanistic paradigm, inspired by the laws of Newton, is being challenged by the newer, probabilistic paradigm, the result of quantum mechanics. And, while mechanistic medical practice aims at "looking for 'hard,' 'scientific,'