Use of the Competing-Hypotheses Heuristic to Reduce 'Pseudodiagnosticity'

J Med Educ. 1988 Jul;63(7):548-54. doi: 10.1097/00001888-198807000-00006.


A quasiexperimental research design involving a nonequivalent control group was used to examine the efficacy of a brief educational intervention in teaching medical students to select optimal diagnostic data consistent with the competing-hypotheses heuristic and Bayes' theorem when solving clinical problems. There was no significant difference between intervention (n = 119) and control (n = 89) groups in performance at baseline, but the intervention group performed significantly better (p less than .001) than the control group after training. The results suggest that some problem-solving skills, such as learning to use the competing-hypotheses heuristic, can be enhanced or learned independent of the acquisition of content knowledge.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Decision Theory
  • Diagnosis*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Problem Solving