Making health decisions: mindsets, numbers, and stories

How do people make decisions about their health and medical treatment? Husband and wife doctor team Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband, both faculty members at Harvard Medical School and physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, explore this topic in a new book called Your Medical Mind. They say three basic influences drive our medical decisions: our mindset or general approach to medical matters, numbers (medical data and how they are presented), and stories. Groopman and Hartzband interviewed scores of patients to arrive at general mindsets that shape medical decisions: maximalists and minimalists, naturalists and technologists, believers and doubters. These mindsets can change in the face of new numbers, well-framed advice from physicians, compelling stories from friends and family, and direct-to-consumer advertising.