Anne Peticolas hit the crucial key by saying:
"By and large I think unless you can somehow -- and I don't know how --
make this a matter of public discussion and understanding, it is going to
be hard-to-impossible to get across in the limited atmosphere of the
consulting room. You just can't communicate it to most people -- not all
-- in that context if they don't have some sort of preparation for it.
I think it leads to false expectations that can be a source of
disappointment, litigation, misunderstanding, and unwarranted
dissatisfaction all right."
Several researchers made a point that "the failure to train learners
properly for clinical uncertainty" and, we may add, PUBLIC was "the
greatest deficiency of medical education throughout the twentieth
Here is the memorable quote from Hazel Thornton to whom I am also CC this
* "To make a useful contribution, patients will need to face
unpleasant realities; learn to appreciate uncertainty; be educated to
understand the dilemmas and problems of clinical research and the dilemmas
of obtaining consent; understand the need for trials to evaluate new
treatments and assess the value of established ones; demand quality; be
aware of the diversity of opinion within the profession and be prepared to
work hard to acquire understanding of all aspects of research activity,
preferable when they are well, so that they may effectively participate in
the shared responsibility and debate"
H. Thornton (1995), chair of the Consumers' Advisory Group for Clinical