How do you decide what you should do in a health crisis? Over the past year and a half, many people have faced this problem. Do you go to the hospital for treatment in the midst of a pandemic? What medications or supplements might be helpful and which are more likely to be harmful? We look at how to make better choices about your health.
Weighing Benefits and Risks:
To make a decision you feel confident in, you have to feel you know the benefits and the risks. Where do you turn to learn about the pros and cons? In such a situation, it is extremely helpful to work with a health care provider you can trust. How do providers and patients build trust together? How important is a personal connection?
Will Shared Decision Making Help You Make Better Choices?
The model of shared decision making calls for both providers and patients to consider all the factors together. In many cases, the doctor knows far more about the condition and its potential treatments than the patient. They need to share that information. On the other hand, the patient has much more intimate knowledge of how his or her body reacts. In addition, they know what they value most and what might be less important to them. Sometimes, a motivated patient will dig into the medical literature and find important evidence that the provider did not have.
For shared decision making to be effective, though, both sides must share. Our guest’s daughter read up on her symptoms and found a plausible source of her discomfort, but the neurologist she consulted was not willing to accept that a young woman could find anything helpful on the Internet.
Make Better Choices in the Light of Changing Information:
Generally, scientists acknowledge that scientific evidence changes. With data, recommendations change. Learning that the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spreads by aerosol helps explain why the recommendation shifted from “no masks for the public” to “masks indoors.” Finding out that eating eggs doesn’t actually increase the risk of heart attacks can help shape new guidelines for healthy eating. Keeping up with the data that shape expert opinion can be helpful, but it is certainly a challenge
Health Literacy and Better Choices:
Medical evidence is frequently presented in papers that can be hard to parse. Not only is the language difficult, but the use of statistics may be tough to understand. Understanding the difference between relative and absolute risk is important, but most of us didn’t learn it in school. That’s why presenting risks in a “so many per 1000” format may be easier to grasp and help us make better health choices.
This Week’s Guest:
Dr. Talya Miron-Shatz is a keynote, consultant, researcher and author at the intersection of medicine and behavioral economics.
She is full professor of business at Ono Academic College in Israel, senior fellow at the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest in New York, and a visiting researcher at the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Miron-Shatz was a post-doctoral researcher at Princeton University and a lecturer at Wharton, the University of Pennsylvania. She has written over 60 academic papers on medical decision making. Dr. Miron-Shatz is CEO of CureMyWay, an international health consulting firm whose clients include Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Samsung.
She is the author of Your Life Depends on It: What You Can Do to Make Better Choices About Your Health. Her website is https://www.TalyaMironShatz.com.
The photo of Dr. Miron-Shatz is by Eyal Tueg.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, after broadcast on October 16. You can stream the show from this site and download the podcast for free.