Over the past four years, we have interviewed scores of patients around the country about how they make medical decisions. We found “maximalists” who want to do everything possible and “minimalists” who are convinced that less is more; “believers” who are certain that a good solution exists for their illness and “doubters” who worry that almost any treatment will be worse than the disease. They developed these mind-sets largely based on past experience with illness, and they use them as a starting point for weighing risks and benefits in their health care.
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