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Testing Treatments: Better Research for Better Healthcare [Paperback]

Ben Goldacre , Imogen Evans , Hazel Thornton , Iain Chalmers , Paul Glasziou
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Oct 2011 1905177488 978-1905177486 2nd
The best pop science book on Evidence Based Medicine ever... I genuinely, truly, cannot recommend this awesome book highly enough for its clarity, depth, and humanity. Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science and Bad Pharma

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.

With a foreword by Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science.

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Testing Treatments: Better Research for Better Healthcare + Bad Pharma: How Medicine is Broken, and How We Can Fix It + Bad Science
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Product details

  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • Publisher: Pinter & Martin Ltd.; 2nd edition (18 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905177488
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905177486
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 125,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


I genuinely, truly, cannot recommend this awesome book highly enough for its clarity, depth, and humanity.
--Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science

Excellent... This is a thought-provoking book and one I will keep nearby for many years. --Irene Mabbott, Nursing Standard

Excellent... This is a thought-provoking book and one I will keep nearby for many years. --Irene Mabbott, Nursing Standard

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and clever 22 Nov 2011
By K. Hall
Testing Treatments asks the crucial question, how can we ensure that medical research effectively meets the needs of patients? It is a crucial question because all over the world, resources are wasted on poor quality research, research that only meets the needs of drug companies, and on unproven, disproven, or unnecessary treatment.

A useful complement to Ben Goldacre's Bad Science and Simon Singh's Trick or Treatment, Testing Treatments clearly lays out the principles of robust research, defining what makes a fair test, and explaining the importance of setting a study within the context of existing research. In itself, these principles do not sound particularly challenging, but the authors go on to show how the waters are muddied by vested interests, patient pester power, paternalistic clinicians, and inexcusable poor practice.

Finally, they set out a strong blueprint for a better future, asking for patients to be treated as equal partners, both as individuals requiring treatment, and as groups participating in research.

This is a readable work of great importance, with easily accessible language and interesting examples throughout the text.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining 12 Dec 2011
Medical research is one of those areas where everyone thinks they know a little. Images of lab rats, miraculous cures and money grabbing pharmaceutical companies compete with the day to day reality of patients and doctors trying to tackle illness. A new edition has been published of a book that tries to shed a bit of light on to the subject.
The book is aimed at the informed patient and explains how new medical treatments are researched, and how that relates to the experience of the patient being treated. The book strikes a tone that is halfway between academic text and pop science, and might seem intimidating to some, but the regular summaries of key points and personal stories mean that the reader will soon find themselves gripped.

The book takes a long view over history, covering scurvy treatments in 1747 right up to cancer trials of the present day, advocating a partnership approach between patient and doctor, and includes calls to action for professionals, patients and policy makers to ensure that questions are asked and information is shared. The reader is encouraged to look sceptically at the need for treatments and screening, and to try to see through marketing and media hype.

Ben Goldacre provided the forward to this edition, and the book continues in the spirit of his work - accessible without being over simplistic. I would have liked to have more detail, but I'm not sure how that could have been achieved without losing the ease of understanding. There is an extensive list of further reading and references at the back of the book for the reader who would like to know more, and I didn't personally feel that the scientific knowledge was shied away from in the text. Perhaps a scientist would disagree, but I went away feeling that I knew much more about the subject and that I would be a more informed patient.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Punchy and eminently readable 2 Mar 2012
This punchy and eminently readable book, by two doctors and a healthcare-research campaigner, takes a critical look at how treatments are assessed - and how so often the way they are evaluated falls short of the ideal.

The essence of good treatment evaluation boils down to the `fair test', the clinical trial that compares different treatments in a way that avoids bias, takes account of the play of chance and assesses all relevant, reliable evidence.

It might be supposed that clinical trials are based on well-constructed research protocols and done with due safeguards for unbiased reporting, but that doesn't always happen. All too often it is a question of profit-driven rather than evidence-based evaluation - pharmaceutical companies want to put their results in the best possible light, because their profit depends on it. One ploy is to withhold negative results from publication, but even independent researchers may neglect to write up their reports if the results are disappointing. Astonishingly, at least half of all clinical trials are never fully reported, which makes the collection of all relevant material for an assessment a daunting task.

The authors want to draw patients into helping to make decisions about their own treatment, and to this end the book tells them how to judge whether claims for treatments are trustworthy. "Getting the right research done", the authors conclude, "is everybody's business".

The book is filled with examples of good, bad and unnecessary research; injudicious use of screening ("early diagnosis is not always better"); the proliferation of "me too" drugs (new, expensive medicines that offer no advantage over older, similar ones); and the misuse of statistics. It is also liberally sprinkled with apt and sometimes pithy quotations - from thoughts on certainty and opinion (from Charlie `Peanuts' Brown) to observations on the overdiagnosis of prostate cancer. And it is beautifully written.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Jil
Urgent and focussed... a vital book, in both senses of the word!

`Testing Treatments' is a broad-ranging work, important reading for patients, tax-payers, clinicians, researchers and research funders. It is packed with evidence of unrepeated studies, unsafe results, biased results, results which aren't properly followed up, or made available. These authors really know their subject.

You will recognise many of the culprits from media reports, but still others will shock you.

This book brings an awareness to consumers and patients that they are part, and can be a much bigger part, of the system by which a treatment is used and reported. Some treatments are researched, and go on sale as, ultimately, effective or ineffective drugs; others become a tragic name associated with a devastating side-effect.

It gives consumers a whole raft of questions to ask, to create a mechanism whereby supply will become driven by the demand of the informed patient, rather than the will, whim or interest of the drug company.

Testing Treatments is a valuable tool for anyone placing their faith in a health-shop remedy, a diagnostic procedure, or drug prescribed by a GP or consultant physician. There are a wealth of references, and the most comprehensive list of additional resources for general and specific information about current research, even about further training in the skills of assessing research evidence.

Many assumptions you might have made about your GP prescribing on the basis of up-to-date research results, or that any diagnostic test must be valuable, or that the evidence of one study alone is enough, will be swept aside in this eye-opening work.

There is a lot of statistical and medical information, but there are also key-points summaries, a `blue-print' for a better future and an action plan of things you can do. This is a vital book, in both senses of the word...read it, you will be riveted!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, and invaluable insight
Having worked in the pharma industry most of my life I have too often seen and been involved in hyping the claims. Read more
Published 17 months ago by F. H. Pearson
2.0 out of 5 stars Good intentions
I do not doubt any second on the good intentions and the goals of the book but such message I prefer to read in a 2 page article instead of 168 pages of repetition. Read more
Published on 16 July 2012 by Mr. J O
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
This book is ideal for the lay person who wants to understand the basics about clinical trials and evidence based medicine. Read more
Published on 12 July 2012 by Martensgirl
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I bought the 2006 edition of this book with great enthusiasm that at last those who suffered from undiagnosed, untreated and undertreated hypothyroidism might receive some helpful... Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2012 by Seasider
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Foundation
This is a well written book that cleverly combines evidence based practice and popular science. It explains things in a very simple way using examples and introduces the reader,... Read more
Published on 17 May 2012 by Simon Nixon
5.0 out of 5 stars do you have an opinion on medicine?
if you have an opinion on the state of healthcare today you owe it to yourself (and everyone you have debates with) to read this book. Read more
Published on 15 April 2012 by D. Zoll
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking read
"Testing Treatments" is a great little read, easy to pick up and understand. This book raises the awareness about the need for fair tests of treatments so that better research can... Read more
Published on 16 Mar 2012 by Milly Peach
4.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting read.
A very accessible book that gives easy to grasp explanations of what can be quite complex research methods, although something is lost in the simplification of the descriptions. Read more
Published on 23 Feb 2012 by Alyson
5.0 out of 5 stars Testing treatments
Very easy to read and understand this book. Very important and potentially tedious concepts were covered in an interesting and well thought out manner. Read more
Published on 26 Jan 2012 by ajnimmo
4.0 out of 5 stars Fair Enough
Medical research has saved countless lives and made immense contributions to human welfare. But it could be done better and it could be done fairer. Read more
Published on 20 Dec 2011 by F Henwood
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