Sociologic Influences on Decision-Making by Clinicians

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Recent articles on clinical decision-making have proposed sophisticated quantitative methods for improving the physician's clinical judgment. Actual clinical decisions, however, are influenced by interactions between the clinician, the patient, and the sociocultural milieu as well as by biomedical considerations. This paper explores these sociologic influences on the decision-making process. Four types of sociologic factors influence the clinician's judgment: the characteristics of the patient; the characteristics of the clinician; the clinician's interaction with his profession and the health care system; and the clinician's relationship with the patient. To illustrate sociologic influences on clinical decision-making, this paper presents observations from the literature of sociology, clinical psychology, psychiatry, and medicine. Further studies are needed to provide additional empirical information.

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