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The Human Effect in Medicine.
  1. A R HART
  1. Norfolk and Norwich NHS Trust, Norwich, UK

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    The Human Effect in Medicine. By Michael Dixon and Kieran Sweeney. (Pp 157; £17.95.) Radcliffe Medical Press, 2000. ISBN 1-85775-369-0.****

    The aim of this book is to emphasis the therapeutic effect of the doctor and the self healing powers of the patient. The authors have written the text in the context of the limitations of modern technologies and medicine's inability to cure many diseases. The book explores the doctor-patient relationship with the purpose of producing better consultations to benefit both participants. Topics included are the placebo effect of the doctor-patient interaction, why it works, illnesses which respond to the placebo effect, and factors which determine its effectiveness. The authors include chapters on psychoneuroimmunology detailing the scientific basis of the placebo effect and mechanisms by which physicians can facilitate healing. The final section of the book looks at how the preceding theory can be translated into practical help for patients by improving the techniques of consultations. For example the authors discuss the value of empathy, relaxation, reassurance, improving self esteem, and the importance of information and self help groups.

    This book is interesting, well written, and will stimulate health professionals to assess their professional practice. Although the book will primarily be of value to general practitioners, it is relevant to doctors in secondary care and all professionals who have direct contact with patients. The book was well illustrated with clinical examples and the history of the subject.