Thirty years of illness scripts: Theoretical origins and practical applications

Med Teach. 2015 May;37(5):457-62. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2014.956052. Epub 2014 Sep 2.


Aim: This study describes the introduction and spread of the concept of "illness script" in the medical education literature.

Method: First, I will concisely discuss the development of the "script" concept in the general psychological literature and the results of the studies performed to provide it with the necessary empirical basis. Next, I will sketch how "scripts" entered the medical domain via efforts to develop diagnostic systems in the field of artificial intelligence. Subsequently, I will describe how the illness script concept was elaborated and specified by medical educators and educational researchers.

Results and discussion: The illness script concept has solid underpinnings and can be used to elucidate aspects of medical expertise development. It can also be used to formulate recommendations for clinical teaching and has yielded a specific test, the Script Concordance Test.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge*
  • Memory*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Time*