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Med Decis Making. 2014 Jul;34(5):627-37. doi: 10.1177/0272989X14525855. Epub 2014 Apr 10.

Evaluation of Physicians' Cognitive Styles.

Author information

1
Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Evidence-Based Medicine and Health Outcomes Research, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (BD, TR, AK, ST, AT)Departments of Hematology and Health Outcomes and Behavior, Moffitt Cancer, Tampa, FL (BD)College of Nursing, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (JWB)School of Applied Social Sciences, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK (SE)Department of Mathematics, Indiana University Northwest, Gary, IN (IH)Center for Advanced Medical Learning & Simulations, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (JCB)Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA (BT)Department of Pediatric Surgery, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (CP) bdjulbeg@health.usf.edu.
2
Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Evidence-Based Medicine and Health Outcomes Research, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (BD, TR, AK, ST, AT)Departments of Hematology and Health Outcomes and Behavior, Moffitt Cancer, Tampa, FL (BD)College of Nursing, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (JWB)School of Applied Social Sciences, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK (SE)Department of Mathematics, Indiana University Northwest, Gary, IN (IH)Center for Advanced Medical Learning & Simulations, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (JCB)Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA (BT)Department of Pediatric Surgery, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (CP).

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Patient outcomes critically depend on accuracy of physicians' judgment, yet little is known about individual differences in cognitive styles that underlie physicians' judgments. The objective of this study was to assess physicians' individual differences in cognitive styles relative to age, experience, and degree and type of training.

METHODS:

Physicians at different levels of training and career completed a web-based survey of 6 scales measuring individual differences in cognitive styles (maximizing v. satisficing, analytical v. intuitive reasoning, need for cognition, intolerance toward ambiguity, objectivism, and cognitive reflection). We measured psychometric properties (Cronbach's α) of scales; relationship of age, experience, degree, and type of training; responses to scales; and accuracy on conditional inference task.

RESULTS:

The study included 165 trainees and 56 attending physicians (median age 31 years; range 25-69 years). All 6 constructs showed acceptable psychometric properties. Surprisingly, we found significant negative correlation between age and satisficing (r = -0.239; P = 0.017). Maximizing (willingness to engage in alternative search strategy) also decreased with age (r = -0.220; P = 0.047). Number of incorrect inferences negatively correlated with satisficing (r = -0.246; P = 0.014). Disposition to suppress intuitive responses was associated with correct responses on 3 of 4 inferential tasks. Trainees showed a tendency to engage in analytical thinking (r = 0.265; P = 0.025), while attendings displayed inclination toward intuitive-experiential thinking (r = 0.427; P = 0.046). However, trainees performed worse on conditional inference task.

CONCLUSION:

Physicians capable of suppressing an immediate intuitive response to questions and those scoring higher on rational thinking made fewer inferential mistakes. We found a negative correlation between age and maximizing: Physicians who were more advanced in their careers were less willing to spend time and effort in an exhaustive search for solutions. However, they appeared to have maintained their "mindware" for effective problem solving.

KEYWORDS:

dual processing theories; individual differences in decision-making; medical decision-making; physicians’ cognitive styles

PMID:
24722474
DOI:
10.1177/0272989X14525855
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