Smart Health Choices

Before you read this book

This section gives an overview of the book and how it is structured. You may wish to read the book from start to finish, or you may choose to read the sections most relevant to your needs and interests.

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The book is broken into six parts, as follows.

Part 1: Health advice can be harmful gives an introduction to the reasons why health advice may be misleading. It discusses some of the common pitfalls for consumers and health professionals, how to identify meaningful health claims and research, and why it can be unwise to rely on the opinions of the experts.

Part 2: Your body, your choice is for you if you feel you have an understanding of the pitfalls in health advice, but need to know how to make better decisions by asking the right questions. It discusses the five key questions (see next page) to help make the best possible health decisions and what to look for when choosing a practitioner.

Parts 3–6 are for you if you’re satisfied with your decisionmaking skills but need help in assessing whether your sources of information are reliable.

Part 3: Stories and studies introduces the concepts of what features combine to make a good study.

Part 4: Evaluating the evidence deals with which study designs best answer questions such as whether a treatment works or what causes a disease.

Part 5: Improving your healthcare explains where and how to find reliable evidence and how to use it, and suggests ways in which consumers can get involved in improving their health and healthcare services.

Part 6: Testing your skill starts with an opportunity to practise your skills on a range of articles from the media, internet and papers

The five key questions at the heart of this book are:

  1. What will happen if I wait and watch?
  2. What are my test or treatment options?
  3. What are the benefits and harms of these options?
  4. How do the benefits and harms weigh up for me?
  5. Do I have enough information to make a choice?