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Med Decis Making. 1997 Apr-Jun;17(2):199-207.

The influences of patient characteristics and physician experience on case recall.

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New England Research Institutes, Watertown, Massachusetts 02172, USA.


The study focused on the influences of both patient characteristics and physician experience on the recall of two breast cancer cases. Two general research questions were addressed: 1) whether patient characteristics such as age, race, and assertiveness affect a physician's initial problem representation, and 2) whether the recall advantage for physicians of intermediate levels of experience extends to physicians who have been out of medical school for at least six years, 128 physicians with a minimum of six years' experience were presented with two videotapes of a doctor-patient encounter. In the first videotape (the pre-workup scenario), the patient had just discovered a lump; in the second (the post-workup scenario), she had recently had a biopsy. Following the presentation of each videotape, the physicians were instructed to record a synopsis of the case prior to making diagnoses, ordering tests, and providing treatment recommendations. The synopses were coded to capture information from the cases that the physicians were able to recall and inferences that they generated based on this information. Two critical findings were obtained. First, none of the patient characteristics investigated consistently produced differences in recall or inference generation across the two scenarios. Second, physician recall was a monotonically decreasing function of years of experience. The latter result is interpreted using a theoretical framework from Schmidt and Boshuizen.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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