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General practitioners’ reasoning when considering the diagnosis heart failure: A think-aloud study.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
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2005 (English)In: BMC Family Practice, ISSN 1471-2296, Vol. 6, no 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Diagnosing chronic heart failure is difficult, especially in mild cases or early in the course of the disease, and guidelines are not easily implemented in everyday practice. The aim of this study was to investigate general practitioners' diagnostic reasoning about patients with suspected chronic heart failure in comparison with recommendations in European guidelines. The think-aloud technique was used. Fifteen general practitioners reasoned about six case vignettes, representing authentic patients with suspected chronic heart failure. Information about each case was added successively in five steps. The general practitioners said their thoughts aloud while reasoning about the probability of the patient having chronic heart failure, and tried to decide about the diagnosis. Arguments for and against chronic heart failure were analysed and compared to recommendations in guidelines. Information about ejection fraction was the most frequent diagnostic argument, followed by information about cardiac enlargement or pulmonary congestion on chest X-ray. However, in a third of the judgement situations, no information about echocardiography was utilized in the general practitioners' diagnostic reasoning. Only three of the 15 doctors used information about a normal electrocardiography as an argument against chronic heart failure. Information about other cardio-vascular diseases was frequently used as a diagnostic argument. It was concluded that the clinical information was not utilized to the extent recommended in guidelines. Some implications of our study are that 1) general practitioners need more information about how to utilize echocardiography when diagnosing chronic heart failure, 2) guidelines ought to give more importance to information about other cardio-vascular diseases in the diagnostic reasoning, and 3) guidelines ought to treat the topic of diastolic heart failure in a clearer way.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 6, no 4
Keyword [en]
medical diagnosis, guide-lines, reasoning
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-13539DOI: doi:10.1186/1471-2296-6-4OAI: diva2:180059
Available from: 2008-04-10 Created: 2008-04-10 Last updated: 2011-01-12Bibliographically approved

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Montgomery, Henry
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