SCIENCE AND THE QUIET ART by David Weatherall

SCIENCE AND THE QUIET ART

The Role of Medical Research in Health Care
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An unpedantic look at the extent to which the ``quiet art'' of healing is based on scientific research, by a professor concerned about the growing public disillusionment with modern medicine. Weatherall (Medicine/Oxford Univ.) argues persuasively that research in the basic medical sciences is essential to progress in health care. He provides a mini-history of scientific medicine, showing how advances in medical science usually result from the coming together of knowledge in various fields. Good clinical research, he notes, is initiated both by careful bedside observation and by curiosity-driven science. To illustrate how medical research works and how progress in patient care is made, he examines the 19th-century achievements made in the knowledge, and then treatment, of diabetes, pernicious anemia, and infectious diseases. He then turns to 20th-century medicine's grappling with heart disease, an area in which he says medicine as yet has very little real understanding. Consequently, he argues, treatment is based on both science and guesswork, and the results are a mixture of success, failure, and uncertainty. To those who argue that it would be better to concentrate our efforts on preventing disease by improving the environment and changing our lifestyles rather than devoting resources to high- tech medicine and laboratory research, Weatherall responds that delivery of health care depends on a genuine understanding of the causes, prevention, and management of disease, and this understanding can only come from research based on solid science. The complexity of both the human organism and disease mean that prevention and radical cures for our most persistent problems, the degenerative diseases of aging, will be hard to come by, but he asserts that molecular biology holds great promise for improvements in diagnosis and treatment. An articulate and cautiously optimistic defense of medical research. (Illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-393-03744-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS: