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Academia and the Profession |

Clinical Problem Solving: A Behavioral Analysis

JEROME P. KASSIRER, M.D., F.A.C.P.; and G. ANTHONY GORRY, Ph.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: in part by grant 17629 from the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute to Baylor College of Medicine for a National Heart and Blood Vessel Research and Demonstration Center.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Jerome P. Kassirer, M.D.; 171 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111.


Boston, Massachusetts; and Houston, Texas


© 1978 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1978;89(2):245-255. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-89-2-245
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To extend the understanding of the clinical problem-solving process, we have analyzed the tape-recorded behavior of experienced clinicians engaged in "taking the history of the present illness" from a simulated patient. We showed that specific diagnostic hypotheses were generated often with little more information than presenting complaints, that testing of diagnostic hypotheses consisted of various case-building strategies for corroborating and discrediting hypotheses, and that the process of information gathering included techniques to evaluate the validity of data and assess the need for immediate action. Overall strategies were more difficult to discern but included a focused approach, a systemic exploration method, and a chronologic technique. The data have potential value in medical education and in developing computer programs to simulate the diagnostic process.

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