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BMJ Open. 2013 Apr 29;3(4). pii: e002887. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002887. Print 2013.

Influence of societal and practice contexts on health professionals' clinical reasoning: a scoping study protocol.

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  • 1École de réadaptation, Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada.



In a context of constrained resources, the efficacy of interventions is a pivotal aim of healthcare systems worldwide. Efficacy of healthcare interventions is highly compromised if clinical reasoning (CR), the process that practitioners use to plan, direct, perform and reflect on client care, is not optimal. The CR process of health professionals is influenced by the institutional dimension (ie, legal, regulatory, administrative and organisational aspects) of their societal and practice contexts. Although several studies have been conducted with respect to the institutional dimension influencing health professionals' CR, no clear integration of their results is yet available. The aim of this study is to synthesise and disseminate current knowledge on the influence of the institutional dimension of contexts on health professionals' CR.


A scoping study of the scientific literature from January 1980 to March 2013 will be undertaken to summarise and disseminate research findings about the influence of the institutional dimension on CR. Numerous databases (n=18) from three relevant fields (healthcare, health law and politics and management) will be searched. Extended search strategies will include the manual search of bibliographies, health-related websites, public registries and journals of interest. Data will be collected and analysed using a thematic chart and content analysis. A systematic multidisciplinary team approach will allow optimal identification of relevant studies, as well as effective and valid content analysis and dissemination of the results.


This scoping study will provide a rigorous, accurate and up-to-date synthesis of existing knowledge regarding: (1) those aspects of the institutional dimension of health professionals' societal and practice contexts that impact their CR and (2) how these aspects influence health professionals' CR. Through the synergy of a multidisciplinary research team from a wide range of expertise, clinical pertinence and an exhaustive dissemination of results to knowledge-users will be ensured.

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