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J Biomed Inform. 2002 Feb;35(1):52-75.

Emerging paradigms of cognition in medical decision-making.

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Laboratory for Decision Making and Cognition, Departments of Medical Informatics and Psychiatry, Columbia University, Vanderbilt Clinic Bldg., 5th Floor, 622 West 168th Street, New York 1003, USA.


The limitations of the classical or traditional paradigm of decision research are increasingly apparent, even though there has been a substantial body of empirical research on medical decision-making over the past 40 years. As decision-support technology continues to proliferate in medical settings, it is imperative that "basic science" decision research develop a broader-based and more valid foundation for the study of medical decision-making as it occurs in the natural setting. This paper critically reviews both traditional and recent approaches to medical decision making, considering the integration of problem-solving and decision-making research paradigms, the role of conceptual knowledge in decision-making, and the emerging paradigm of naturalistic decision-making. We also provide an examination of technology-mediated decision-making. Expanding the scope of decision research will better enable us to understand optimal decision processes, suitable coping mechanisms under suboptimal conditions, the development of expertise in decision-making, and ways in which decision-support technology can successfully mediate decision processes.

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