Decision making and judgement in radiographic and sonographic practice : an investigation using decision analysis

Bowman, Scott (2000). Decision making and judgement in radiographic and sonographic practice : an investigation using decision analysis. PhD thesis The Open University.



This is a study into decision making and judgement in the context of radiography. The early part of the study investigated the nature and scope of decisions and judgements made in general radiography and sonography, while the later part focused on the decisions and judgements made by sonographers when breaking bad news to patients. The study is located in a broad interpretative framework, it used an adapted form of phenomenological methodology. A survey and an observational study were used to collect data. In-depth interviews were conducted which used decision analysis (a tool normally used as a decision aid) to elicit participants perceptions and experiences of decision making and judgement.

Decision analysis was used in three different ways to collect data. The technique was found to be particularly useful in enabling participants to reflect on their intuitive processes and hence make them overt.

The data collected during the observational phase of the study was used to formulate a classification of radiographic decision making and judgement. The study found that the predominant style of decision making and judgement in radiography is intuitive with some evidence of peer-aided decision making and judgement. There is little evidence that the participants use systems aided approaches. Participants found the process of decision analysis interesting but could not relate its use to their own professional practice other than as an educational or de-briefing tool.

In sonography it was found that participants had an over-confidence in their diagnostic abilities which influenced their decision making. Sonographers were also found to produce information based on experience, when this information was absent from the decision making scenario provided. On the whole the participants in this study had given little thought to the process of decision making and judgement and the impact of factors such as base rates.

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