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Implement Sci. 2006 May 25;1:12.

Implementation science: a role for parallel dual processing models of reasoning?

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1
Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia. Ruth.Sladek@flinders.edu.au

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A better theoretical base for understanding professional behaviour change is needed to support evidence-based changes in medical practice. Traditionally strategies to encourage changes in clinical practices have been guided empirically, without explicit consideration of underlying theoretical rationales for such strategies. This paper considers a theoretical framework for reasoning from within psychology for identifying individual differences in cognitive processing between doctors that could moderate the decision to incorporate new evidence into their clinical decision-making.

DISCUSSION:

Parallel dual processing models of reasoning posit two cognitive modes of information processing that are in constant operation as humans reason. One mode has been described as experiential, fast and heuristic; the other as rational, conscious and rule based. Within such models, the uptake of new research evidence can be represented by the latter mode; it is reflective, explicit and intentional. On the other hand, well practiced clinical judgments can be positioned in the experiential mode, being automatic, reflexive and swift. Research suggests that individual differences between people in both cognitive capacity (e.g., intelligence) and cognitive processing (e.g., thinking styles) influence how both reasoning modes interact. This being so, it is proposed that these same differences between doctors may moderate the uptake of new research evidence. Such dispositional characteristics have largely been ignored in research investigating effective strategies in implementing research evidence. Whilst medical decision-making occurs in a complex social environment with multiple influences and decision makers, it remains true that an individual doctor's judgment still retains a key position in terms of diagnostic and treatment decisions for individual patients. This paper argues therefore, that individual differences between doctors in terms of reasoning are important considerations in any discussion relating to changing clinical practice.

SUMMARY:

It is imperative that change strategies in healthcare consider relevant theoretical frameworks from other disciplines such as psychology. Generic dual processing models of reasoning are proposed as potentially useful in identifying factors within doctors that may moderate their individual uptake of evidence into clinical decision-making. Such factors can then inform strategies to change practice.

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