What do you do when you don’t have a diagnosis?

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 54, No. 4, May 2012, Page 193 News

Investigators at the University of Bri­tish Columbia and colleagues at the University of Calgary have launched a study investigating uncertainty in medical diagnosis. Health services researcher Dr Jude Kornelsen and family physician Dr Robert Woollard, both academic faculty in the Department of Family Practice at UBC, are interviewing physicians and patients for this Canadian Institutes of Health Research–funded study. 

Current diagnostic models in medical practice do not adequately ac­count for patient symptoms that cannot be classified. Both medical and social culture expect a dia­gnosis and treatment protocol for symptoms. When this is not forthcoming, practitioners and pa­tients alike may experience frustration and anxiety. 

The in­vestigators are interested in how physicians res­pond to this uncertainty, how they communicate ambiguity in diagnoses to colleagues and patients, and which resources they opt to em­ploy in relating to patients and addressing treatment options. The goal of this investigation is to ex­amine how clinicians and patients conceptualize medical uncertainty within a disease-based framework.

This two-part exploratory qual­itative study will use in-depth, guid­ed, open-ended interviewing to document physicians’ and pa­tients’ experiences of ambiguous diagnosis guided by a phenomenological framework. For more information or to participate in this study, please contact the investigators, Dr Jude Kornelsen (jude.kornelsen@familymed.ubc.ca), Dr Rob­ert Woollard (Woollard@familymed.ubc.ca) or the study coordinator, Leslie Carty (leslie@crhr.ca).

. What do you do when you don’t have a diagnosis?. BCMJ, Vol. 54, No. 4, May, 2012, Page(s) 193 - News.

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