Querying physicians' beliefs in career choice studies: the limitations of introspective causal reports

Fam Med. 1993 Mar;25(3):203-7.


Numerous studies in family medicine literature explore the determinants of physicians' specialty and practice location choices. A research approach frequently used in these studies has been to ask study physicians what led them to make specific career choices, labeled here as the introspective causal reports study design. This paper explores the validity of introspective causal reports and their usefulness in making health manpower policy recommendations. The accuracy of people's beliefs about the causes of their own behaviors is examined, and social psychology literature is drawn upon in this examination. Data are presented characterizing the use of introspective causal reports in recent family medicine literature. Recommendations are made for stronger research designs in future physician career choice determinant studies.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior
  • Bias
  • Career Choice*
  • Family Practice
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Humans
  • Physicians*
  • Psychology, Social
  • Research Design
  • United States