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J Fam Pract. 1986 Nov;23(5):468-72.

Student and faculty assumptions about the nature of uncertainty in medicine and medical education.


Clinical reasoning involves an element of uncertainty. Teaching clinical reasoning involves understanding how students view uncertainty as well as how medical problems are solved. This study uses Perry's model of intellectual development to explore changes in how medical students, residents, and instructors think about the nature of knowledge. A total of 31 medical students, residents, and instructors completed the Widick and Knefelkamp Measure of Intellectual Development revised to focus specifically on uncertainty in medicine. Consistent with Perry's theory, scores reflected increasing degrees of acceptance of the role of uncertainty in medicine with increasing experience. Based on these results, it is concluded that to improve the effectiveness of teaching problem solving in medicine, faculty must challenge the assumptions held by medical students about the certainty of medical knowledge while teaching the process of clinical diagnosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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