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Clinical experience as evidence in evidence-based practice

Thompson, C (2003) Clinical experience as evidence in evidence-based practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing. pp. 230-237. ISSN 0309-2402

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Background. This paper's starting point is the recognition (descriptive not normative) that, for the vast majority of day-to-day clinical decision-making situations, the 'evidence' for decision-making is experiential knowledge. Moreover, reliance on this knowledge base means that nurses must use cognitive shortcuts or heuristics for handling information when making decisions. These heuristics encourage systematic biases in decision-makers and deviations from the normative rules of 'good' decision-making. Aims. The aim of the paper is to explore three common heuristics and the biases that arise when handling complex information in clinical decision-making (overconfidence, hindsight and base rate neglect) and, in response to these biases, to illustrate some simple techniques for reducing the negative influence of heuristics. Discussion. Nurses face a limited range of types of uncertainty in their clinical decisions and draw primarily on experiential knowledge to handle these uncertainties. This paper argues that experiential knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient basis for clinical decision-making. It illustrates how overconfidence in one's knowledge base, being correct 'after the event' or with the benefit of hindsight, and ignoring the base rates associated with events, conditions or health states, can impact on professional judgements and decisions. The paper illustrates some simple strategies for minimizing the impact of heuristics on the real-life clinical decisions of nurses. Conclusion. The paper concludes that more research knowledge of the impact of heuristics and techniques to combat them in nursing decisions is needed.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: 'This is an electronic version of an Article published in Journal of Advanced Nursing, August 2003, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 230-237’. © Blackwell Science Ltd
Keywords: decision-making,clinical judgement,heuristics,bias,evidence-based nursing,clinical uncertainty,DECISION-MAKING,I KNEW,PHYSICIANS,INFORMATION,HINDSIGHT,KNOWLEDGE,NURSES,SCALE,CARE
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Health Sciences (York)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2004
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2016 00:06
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/52

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