Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Patient and clinician experiences of uncertainty in the diagnostic process: Current understanding and future directions.

Meyer AND, Giardina TD, Khawaja L, Singh H. Patient and clinician experiences of uncertainty in the diagnostic process: Current understanding and future directions. Patient education and counseling. 2021 Nov 1; 104(11):2606-2615.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information vaww.hsrd.research.va.gov/dimensions/

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions



Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: Uncertainty occurs throughout the diagnostic process and must be managed to facilitate accurate and timely diagnoses and treatments. Better characterization of uncertainty can inform strategies to manage it more effectively in clinical practice. We provide a comprehensive overview of current literature on diagnosis-related uncertainty describing (1) where patients and clinicians experience uncertainty within the diagnostic process, (2) how uncertainty affects the diagnostic process, (3) roots of uncertainty related to probability/risk, ambiguity, or complexity, and (4) strategies to manage uncertainty. DISCUSSION: Each diagnostic process step involves uncertainty, including patient engagement with the healthcare system; information gathering, interpretation, and integration; formulating working diagnoses; and communicating diagnoses to patients. General management strategies include acknowledging uncertainty, obtaining more contextual information from patients (e.g., gathering occupations and family histories), creating diagnostic safety nets (e.g., informing patients what red flags to look for), engaging in worst case/best case scenario planning, and communicating diagnostic uncertainty to patients, families, and colleagues. Potential strategies tailored to various aspects of diagnostic uncertainty are also outlined. CONCLUSION: Scientific knowledge on diagnostic uncertainty, while previously elusive, is now becoming more clearly defined. Next steps include research to evaluate relationships between management and communication of diagnostic uncertainty and improved patient outcomes.





Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.