Deterministic versus evidence-based attitude towards clinical diagnosis

J Eval Clin Pract. 2007 Aug;13(4):533-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2007.00716.x.

Abstract

Generally, two basic classes have been proposed for scientific explanation of events. Deductive reasoning emphasizes on reaching conclusions about a hypothesis based on verification of universal laws pertinent to that hypothesis, while inductive or probabilistic reasoning explains an event by calculation of some probabilities for that event to be related to a given hypothesis. Although both types of reasoning are used in clinical practice, evidence-based medicine stresses on the advantages of the second approach for most instances in medical decision making. While 'probabilistic or evidence-based' reasoning seems to involve more mathematical formulas at the first look, this attitude is more dynamic and less imprisoned by the rigidity of mathematics comparing with 'deterministic or mathematical attitude'. In the field of medical diagnosis, appreciation of uncertainty in clinical encounters and utilization of likelihood ratio as measure of accuracy seem to be the most important characteristics of evidence-based doctors. Other characteristics include use of series of tests for refining probability, changing diagnostic thresholds considering external evidences and nature of the disease, and attention to confidence intervals to estimate uncertainty of research-derived parameters.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential*
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Probability