Testing Treatments: Better Research for Better Healthcare

Book Testing Treatments is a book I heard about (if my memory serves me correctly) by way of Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science blog. He described it as the “best pop science book on Evidence Based Medicine ever,” and I was sufficiently interested to add it to my Amazon wish list. I don’t know how many pop science books on Evidence Based Medicine have been written, but this one is very good indeed.

To quote the blurb:

How do we know whether a particular treatment really works? How reliable is the evidence? And how do we ensure that research into medical treatments best meets the needs of patients? These are just a few of the questions addressed in a lively and informative way in Testing Treatments. Brimming with vivid examples, Testing Treatments will inspire both patients and professionals.

Building on the success of the first edition, Testing Treatments has now been extensively revised and updated. The second edition includes a thought-provoking chapter on screening, explaining why early diagnosis is not always better. Other new chapters explore how over-regulation of research can work against the best interests of patients, and how robust evidence from research can be drawn together to shape the practice of healthcare in ways that allow treatment decisions to be reached jointly by patients and clinicians.

Testing Treatments urges everyone to get involved in improving current research and future treatment, and outlines practical steps that patients and doctors can take together.

What the book does is lay out – very clearly – how new treatments should be evaluated, and how they often are evaluated. The disconnect is surprising and the book strongly advocates patients becoming better informed and asking the questions that should be asked if we are to ensure that research isn’t wasteful or harmful, and that treatments actually meet the needs of those receiving them.

The book, which is available from Amazon or as a free PDF, concludes with an action plan of things you can do to ensure that the treatments you receive are the ones that are right for you. I was tempted to paste that plan into this post, but I do think you need the context of the book to fully appreciate it. So instead, I shall just urge you to treat yourself to a copy. It’s well worth it.