Seeing in different ways: introducing "rich pictures" in the study of expert judgment

Qual Health Res. 2015 May;25(5):713-25. doi: 10.1177/1049732314553594. Epub 2014 Oct 3.


In this article we explore the value of using visual data in a study on medical expert judgment to better understand medical experts' conceptualizations of complex, challenging situations. We use examples from a larger study on medical expertise in which rich pictures and interviews were used. The three stories presented in this article belong to experts in the domain of surgery. The stories are used to show the ways in which rich pictures can capture and elucidate potentially hidden aspects of the influence of the context in surgical experts' judgment during challenging operations. We suggest that incorporating visual representations such as rich pictures as research data can aid in understanding previously unarticulated constructions of medical expertise. We conclude that when the researcher strives for capturing complexity, visual methods have the potential to help medical experts deflect from their tendency to simplify descriptions of accounts and to meaningfully engage these individuals in the research process.

Keywords: complexity; qualitative analysis; research, qualitative; surgery; visual methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Art
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Judgment*
  • London
  • Ontario
  • Specialties, Surgical / methods
  • Surgeons / psychology*