BACKGROUND: Clinical decision making in dermatology is a complex process and might be influenced by a wide range of nonclinical factors.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to explore the role of nonclinical influences, beyond diagnosis and severity, on clinical decision making in dermatology.
METHODS: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 46 clinicians working in departments of dermatology of nine different hospitals in Wales. Interviews were audio-recorded and later transcribed and their contents analysed.
RESULTS: Nonclinical factors influencing patient management decisions in dermatology that were identified related to patients, clinicians and practice characteristics. Patient-related factors included place of residence, socioeconomic circumstances, education and intelligence, ethnicity, age, treatment adherence, expectations from treatment, quality of life, concerns and worries, difficult patients, and family members or friends. Clinician-related factors included time constraints in clinic, clinicians' personal circumstances, relationship with colleagues, and relationship with pharmaceutical companies. Practice-related factors included working in private practice, cost of treatment to the National Health Service (NHS), prescribing bureaucracy, and availability of treatment service in the work place. There was a difference between the consultants' views and those of the other clinicians over the impact of pharmaceutical companies on clinicians' prescribing and the awareness of treatment costs to the NHS. Most of the factors identified could potentially influence the clinicians' decision-making process subconsciously. Some clinicians highlighted that these factors are untaught in the medical curriculum, and are usually ignored in clinical guidelines, and therefore represent a challenge to the practice of evidence-based medicine.
CONCLUSIONS: This study has described one aspect of the reality of medical decision making beyond the conventional evidence-based guidelines approach. Proper understanding of nonclinical influences on decision making is of paramount importance for the best patient-centred treatment outcomes.
- Attitude of Health Personnel
- Attitude to Health
- Clinical Competence
- Decision Making
- Guideline Adherence
- Health Services Research/methods
- Medical Staff, Hospital/psychology
- Practice Guidelines as Topic
- Practice Patterns, Physicians'/statistics & numerical data
- Professional Autonomy
- Skin Diseases/therapy
- Socioeconomic Factors