Critical Decisions: Using Critical Decisions to Teach

My publisher, HarperCollins, is making Critical Decisions available to teachers free of charge if they are considering using it in their courses—as in, assigning the book to their students.

Although Critical Decisions is not an academic tome, but instead is written for an intelligent lay audience, it is nevertheless a great way to introduce students to a number of topics.  In Critical Decisions, I tell the history of the shared decision making revolution that has taken place in medical care over the last few decades, and show the challenges of achieving true partnership between patients and their physicians when it is time to make important decisions.  The book is a mixture of science—primarily the science of decision psychology and physician/patient communication—and stories that illustrate the aforementioned sciences.  It will definitely be a great way to introduce your students to some of the controversies surrounding shared decision making.

I think the book will be of greatest relevance for courses that cover topics such as:

  • Shared decision making
  • Bioethics or Medical Ethics
  • Health law—especially courses covering informed consent
  • Decision psychology in medical settings
  • Professionalism and doctor/patient communication

I have already begun using Critical Decisions in my undergraduate courses.  My students like the stories, or at least they tell me that, and enjoy the fact that the writing is more accessible than most academic articles I assign them.  I’m also planning to use this book with medical students.  Critical Decisions is a great complement to those drier readings students are exposed to when learning about the doctor/patient relationship.

If you are thinking of using this book in a course, you can request a copy from my publisher by going to this link:

And if you know of colleagues who might have interest in the book for their teaching, feel free to let them know.  The book industry is struggling, which is a shame because not every important idea can be communicated in 2,000 word journal articles, much less (much, much less) in 140 character tweets!

Which reminds me: you can learn more about Critical Decisions on my blog ( or–irony alert!–by following me on Twitter: @peterubel.

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