Physicians’ Overconfidence in Diagnostic Accuracy Could Contribute to Misdiagnoses

December 13, 2013 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


The association between physicians’ diagnostic accuracy and their confidence in that accuracy may be poor, and physicians may not request the required additional resources to facilitate diagnosis when they most need it, reports a study published in the November 25, 2013, issue of JAMA Internal Medicine. In the study, researchers recruited 118 general internists from an online physician community in the United States and asked them to diagnose four previously validated case vignettes of variable difficulty and record one to three differential diagnoses and corresponding judgments of confidence. Although this represents a significant difference in diagnostic accuracy between easier and more difficult cases, the data reflected that the participants’ corresponding difference in confidence scores was relatively insignificant (7.2 versus 6.4 out of 10 for easier and more difficult cases, respectively).

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