Article

In praise of clinical judgment: Meehl's forgotten legacy.

Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.
Journal of Clinical Psychology (Impact Factor: 2.12). 11/2005; 61(10):1257-76. DOI: 10.1002/jclp.20181
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although Paul E. Meehl demonstrated the limits of informal aggregation of data and prognostication by presumed experts, he remained convinced that clinical experience confers expertise of some kind. The authors explore this forgotten side of Meehl's legacy by reconsidering the validity of clinical judgment in its natural context, everyday clinical work. Three domains central to clinical practice are examined: diagnosis, interpretation of meaning, and intervention. It is argued that a more sanguine picture of clinical expertise emerges when the focus shifts from prediction at high levels of inference to (a) judgments at a moderate level of inference, (b) contexts for which clinical training and experience are likely to confer expertise, and (c) conditions that optimize the expression of that expertise (e.g., use of instruments designed for expert observers). The authors conclude by examining domains in which clinical judgment could prove useful in knowledge generation (e.g., hypothesis generation, identification of falsifying instances, item development).

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