Analysis of medical decision making: a cognitive perspective on medical informatics.

A. Kushniruk, V. Patel, D. Fleiszer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The improved support of complex medical decision making will require a greater understanding of the cognitive processes of physicians. Decision making in medicine often involves the careful weighing of uncertain and ill-structured information from various sources. In this paper a cognitive approach to analyzing complex intensive care decision making is outlined. The study described involved the presentation of case descriptions of systematically varied complexity, to two levels of physicians: intensive care residents (intermediates) and intensive care specialists (experts). Subjects were asked to "think aloud" in providing treatment and management decisions for the cases. The audiotaped protocols were then analyzed for the use of decision strategies and for key aspects of decision making. It was found that expert subjects tended to focus on developing a more refined situational analysis of the decision problem. The study results are being used in the design of a system for aiding physicians in making complex decisions in intensive care medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-197
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings / the ... Annual Symposium on Computer Application [sic] in Medical Care. Symposium on Computer Applications in Medical Care
StatePublished - 1995


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