A Theory of Medical Decision Making and Health: Fuzzy Trace Theory

Departments of Human Development and Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850, USA.
Medical Decision Making (Impact Factor: 3.24). 11/2008; 28(6):850-65. DOI: 10.1177/0272989X08327066
Source: PubMed


The tenets of fuzzy trace theory are summarized with respect to their relevance to health and medical decision making. Illustrations are given for HIV prevention, cardiovascular disease, surgical risk, genetic risk, and cancer prevention and control. A core idea of fuzzy trace theory is that people rely on the gist of information, its bottom-line meaning, as opposed to verbatim details in judgment and decision making. This idea explains why precise information (e.g., about risk) is not necessarily effective in encouraging prevention behaviors or in supporting medical decision making. People can get the facts right, and still not derive the proper meaning, which is key to informed decision making. Getting the gist is not sufficient, however. Retrieval (e.g., of health-related values) and processing interference brought on by thinking about nested or overlapping classes (e.g., in ratio concepts, such as probability) are also important. Theory-based interventions that work (and why they work) are presented, ranging from specific techniques aimed at enhancing representation, retrieval, and processing to a comprehensive intervention that integrates these components.

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    • "The approaches of fuzzy multi-criteria decision making have been tested successfully in many real life applications, including health sciences and sustainable human well-being. For example, the fuzzy approach has been applied in medical decision making (Reyna 2008;Toress & Nieto 2006;Phuonga & Kreinovich 2001) and also in measuring quality of life (Abdullah & Md Tap 2008;Abdullah & Md Tap 2009). The method of fuzzy decision making fuzzy simple additive weight was employed by Abdullah and Jamal (2011) to weight dimensions of HRQoL. "
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    • "However, this approach has been criticized because accurate recall does not ensure that the information can be used effectively. Rather, decisions are typically made based on gist (see, e.g., Reyna, 2008; Timmermans et al., 2004; Weinstein, 1999; Wilhelms & Reyna, 2013; Wolfe, 2006; Zikmund-Fisher, 2013). Thus, it is important to include measures of gist along with measures of verbatim understanding (e.g., Feldman-Stewart, Brundage, & Zotov, 2007; Hawley et al., 2008; Wolfe, 2006). "
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