Clinical judgement and the medical profession

J Eval Clin Pract. 2011 Aug;17(4):621-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2010.01560.x. Epub 2010 Oct 25.


Objectives: Clinical judgment is a central element of the medical profession, essential for the performance of the doctor, and potentially generating information also for other clinicians and for scientists and health care managers. The recently renewed interest in clinical judgement is primarily engaged with its role in communication, diagnosis and decision making. Beyond this issue, the present article highlights the interrelations between clinical judgement, therapy assessment and medical professionalism.

Methods: Literature review and theory development.

Results: The article presents different methodological approaches to causality assessment in clinical studies and in clinical judgement, and offers criteria for clinical single case causality. The article outlines models of medical professionalism such as technical rationality and practice epistemology, and characterizes features of professional expertise such as tacit knowledge, reflection in action, and gestalt cognition.

Conclusions: Consequences of a methodological and logistical advancement of clinical judgment are discussed, both in regard to medical progress and to the renewal of the cognitive basis of the medical profession.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • General Practice
  • Gestalt Theory
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Patient Care