Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Effect of a metacognitive intervention on cognitive heuristic use during diagnostic reasoning

Payne, Velma Lucille (2011) Effect of a metacognitive intervention on cognitive heuristic use during diagnostic reasoning. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB) | Preview


Medical judgment and decision-making frequently occur under conditions of uncertainty. In order to reduce the complexity of diagnosis, physicians often rely on cognitive heuristics. Use of heuristics during clinical reasoning can be effective; however when used inappropriately the result can be flawed reasoning, medical errors and patient harm. Many researchers have attempted to debias individuals from inappropriate heuristic use by designing interventions based on normative theories of decision-making. There have been few attempts to debias individuals using interventions based on descriptive decision-making theories. Objectives: (1) Assess use of Anchoring and Adjustment and Confirmation Bias during diagnostic reasoning; (2) Investigate the impact of heuristic use on diagnostic accuracy; (3) Determine the impact of a metacognitive intervention based on the Mental Model Theory designed to reduce biased judgment by inducing physicians to 'think about how they think'; and (4) Test a novel technique using eye-tracking to determine heuristic use and diagnostic accuracy within mode of thinking as defined by the Dual Process Theory. Methods: Medical students and residents assessed clinical scenarios using a computer system, specified a diagnosis, and designated the data used to arrive at the diagnosis. During case analysis, subjects either verbalized their thoughts or wore eye-tracking equipment to capture eye movements and pupil size as they diagnosed cases. Diagnostic data specified by the subject was used to measure heuristic use and assess the impact of heuristic use on diagnostic accuracy. Eye-tracking data was used to determine the frequency of heuristic use (Confirmation Bias only) and mode of thinking. Statistic models were executed to determine the effect of the metacognitive intervention. Results: Use of cognitive heuristics during diagnostic reasoning was common for this subject population. Logistic regression showed case difficulty to be an important factor contributing to diagnostic error. The metacognitive intervention had no effect on heuristic use and diagnostic accuracy. Eye-tracking data reveal this subject population infrequently assess cases in the Intuitive mode of thinking; spend more time in the Analytical mode of thinking, and switches between the two modes frequently as they reason through a case to arrive at a diagnosis.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Payne, Velma
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCrowley, Rebecca SCrowleyRS@upmc.eduREBECCAJ
Committee MemberMello-Thoms,
Committee MemberGonzalez,
Committee MemberRoberts, Mark Srobertsm@upmc.eduMROBERTS
Committee MemberCroskerry,
Date: 16 May 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 22 December 2010
Approval Date: 16 May 2011
Submission Date: 18 April 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Medicine > Biomedical Informatics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: clinical reasoning; cognitive heuristics; diagnostic reasoning; feedback; Medical decision making
Other ID:, etd-04182011-191547
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:38
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:35


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item