Objective: To ascertain whether a physician who uses a computer-assisted diagnostic support system (DSS) would be rated less capable than a physician who does not.
Method: Students assumed the role of a patient with a possible ankle fracture (experiment 1) or a possible deep vein thrombosis (experiment 2). They read a scenario that described an interaction with a physician who used no DSS, one who used an unspecified DSS, or one who used a DSS developed at a prestigious medical center. Participants were then asked to rate the interaction on 5 criteria, the most important of which was the diagnostic ability of the physician. In experiment 3, 74 patients in the waiting room of a clinic were randomly assigned to the same 3 types of groups as used in experiment 1. In experiment 4, 131 3rd- and 4th-year medical students read a scenario of a physician-patient interaction and were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups: the physician used no DSS, heeded the recommendation of a DSS, defied a recommendation of a DSS by treating in a less aggressive manner, or defied a recommendation of a DSS by treating in a more aggressive manner .
Results: The participants always deemed the physician who used no decision aid to have the highest diagnostic ability.
Conclusion: Patients may surmise that a physician who uses a DSS is not as capable as a physician who makes the diagnosis with no assistance from a DSS.