Author(s): Gorini A, Pravettoni G
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Abstract Cognitive theories on decision making show that individuals often do not decide in a full and rationale way, but instead use cognitive strategies that allow them to overcome the limitations imposed by their limited rationality and the difficulties derived from uncertainty. The first part of the paper will discuss the role of heuristics and biases in medical decision making. This is an interesting field of research since medical decisions must be fast and are often complicated by rapid changes in the patient's clinical condition, uncertain prognosis and unexpected or uncontrollable treatment effects. In such contexts individuals are forced to rely on heuristics to assist them in taking decisions which can sometimes produce cognitive biases. The second part of the paper will be dedicated to discussing ways in which the patients' decisions can be improved. The role of the shared decision making approach will be discussed as well as the role of decision aids. Based on personal information coming from the physical and psychological characteristics and needs of the patient, decision aids give information about specific options and outcomes related to the patient's disease. Provided with a set of well-defined alternatives, patients are assisted in taking their preferred decisions, especially when there is more than one medically reasonable opinion available. Moreover, decision aids facilitate and support the shared decision-making, a process by which patients and physicians discuss and evaluate the alternatives for a particular medical decision together. Copyright © 2011 European Federation of Internal Medicine. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Eur J Intern Med
and referenced in Biology and Medicine