Friday, 25 April 2014

Book/Web review: Testing Treatments

Title: Testing Treatments 2nd Ed, 2011
Authors: Imogen Evans, Hazel Thornton, Iain Chalmers, Paul Glasziou
Publisher: Pinter and Martin, London
Website: testingtreatments.org

Testing Treatments is a book, and Testing Treatments Interactive (http://www.testingtreatments.org/) is a website that contains the book, with live links and added information. It is a valuable reference tool for the layperson and also useful for health practitioners who are not well versed in evidence-based medicine. The book tells you why it is important to test treatments, how this type of testing should be done, and how to make research better and more useful to future patients.

Testing Treatments is highly recommended for lay people who wish to understand medical (clinical) research, and to make sense of the claims about medical research to which they are so often exposed. I also recommend it for health practitioners because, sadly, so many of them are unaware of the principles discussed in this book.

The book is so simply and clearly structured and written that nearly anybody could read this and understand the principles. There is complete avoidance of statistical and medical language. Even the references are kept to a minimum and are often to sites that are also accessible to non-medics.

The book covers sections on what makes “fair” tests of treatment, what is good and bad about research, what we can all do to make it better, and ends with advice on how to make the best decisions and find the right evidence.

The book is filled with examples that are both eye-opening and well selected to emphasis the points made.

I recommend reading this online, not only because it free, but because it is laid out in short sections, usually only one screen, and it is very easy to navigate. This way, you can leave it on your browser, and flick through pages at your leisure. The pdf is also available to download.

The bottom line

This book is an easy read and uses simple but powerful examples to drive home each of its points. This combination of simplicity and interesting examples makes the messages more powerful and memorable. This book should be essential reading for all patients.

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