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Sisira Dharmaratne, Husna Razee, Gominda Ponnamperuma, Kosala Marambe, Andrew Dawson, Chinthaka Balasooriya


Rationale and aims: Contextual factors are increasingly recognized as having a significant influence on clinical-decision-making. Contextual influences however, are considered ‘less scientific’ or ‘non-clinical’ in the eyes of practicing clinicians, making it a sensitive issue for discussion.  Therefore, exploring these contextual influences can be challenging. Methods which can circumvent this challenge are required to evaluate clinical decision making at natural settings. This paper reports on the development of an innovative research method to address this challenge of exploring contextual influences and similar sensitive and complex clinical practice issues.  Method: The researchers conducted a field research to test an interview based method which was termed as ‘Clinician Recalled Vignette (CRV) Method’. Based on reflections on the field research experience this preliminary method was refined to develop an innovative method which is potentially capable of eliciting sensitive and complex clinical practice issues. Results: Reflections on field test data provided preliminary evidence on the usefulness of the CRV method and limitations. The method that was refined, in response to limitations, focused on key decision points relevant to the clinical vignettes recalled by clinicians, and included a mechanism to identify how contextual factors influence these key decision points. This innovative method was termed ‘Vignette-based Decision Point Analysis’. Conclusions: The innovative method discussed in this paper will assist other researchers in conceptualising and conducting research projects to explore sensitive and complex clinical practice issues in natural settings. 


Clinical decision-making, contextual influences, decision-point analysis, evidence-based medicine, innovative research methods, person-centered healthcare, self-poisoning, social problem perspective

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