Clinical Judgment Gets Lift from Research

By Bower, Bruce | Science News, August 22, 1998 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Clinical Judgment Gets Lift from Research

Bower, Bruce, Science News

Psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians demonstrate considerable flaws in the judgments they make about their clients, according to studies published over the past several decades. Statistical formulas employing background information better predict a client's prognosis or propensity to behave violently than do clinicians, and the professionals' years of experience fail to improve their insight into clients, these data indicate.

Think again, says a team of psychologists at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Preliminary results of their compilation and analysis of many clinical-judgment studies indicate that statistical models perform no better than flesh-and-blood clinicians on judgments common within the mental health field. Moreover, clinicians indeed become more accurate decision makers for many tasks as they accumulate experience, the researchers argue.

Previous dour assessments of clinical judgment have often rested on selective reviews of investigations that frequently contain methodological problems, contends project director Paul M. Spengler. Nonetheless, convictions about inherently inept clinical decisions have flourished, he says.

"Unevaluated assumptions are repeated like a mantra and achieve the level of myth, perpetuated by the very scholars who wish to reduce bias in clinical judgment," Spengler says.

He and his colleagues presented initial results of their metanalysis of clinical judgment research at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association last week in San Francisco.

The Ball State group spent nearly 6 years tracking down 1,048 empirical studies of clinical decision making. These range from published articles to unpublished dissertations by psychology graduate students.

In one investigation derived from this research sample, Stefania Aegisdottir and Alan Maugherman chose 74 articles comparing statistical and clinical prediction in the mental health field. They have summarized the findings of 30 of those studies so far.

Experiments described in these articles focused on a number of assessments regarding individual clients, such as ascertaining the presence of brain damage, identifying personality traits, estimating future emotional adjustment or criminal behavior, and judging school performance.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Clinical Judgment Gets Lift from Research


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?