Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Tips for Teachers of Evidence-based Medicine: Making Sense of Decision Analysis Using a Decision Tree

By Anna Lee, Gavin M. Joynt, Anthony M. H. Ho, Sheri Keitz, Thomas McGinn and Peter C. Wyer


Decision analysis is a tool that clinicians can use to choose an option that maximizes the overall net benefit to a patient. It is an explicit, quantitative, and systematic approach to decision making under conditions of uncertainty. In this article, we present two teaching tips aimed at helping clinical learners understand the use and relevance of decision analysis. The first tip demonstrates the structure of a decision tree. With this tree, a clinician may identify the optimal choice among complicated options by calculating probabilities of events and incorporating patient valuations of possible outcomes. The second tip demonstrates how to address uncertainty regarding the estimates used in a decision tree. We field tested the tips twice with interns and senior residents. Teacher preparatory time was approximately 90 minutes. The field test utilized a board and a calculator. Two handouts were prepared. Learners identified the importance of incorporating values into the decision-making process as well as the role of uncertainty. The educational objectives appeared to be reached. These teaching tips introduce clinical learners to decision analysis in a fashion aimed to illustrate principles of clinical reasoning and how patient values can be actively incorporated into complex decision making

Topics: Teaching Tips
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central

Suggested articles


  1. (2007). Effect of an integrated teaching intervention on clinical decision analysis: a randomized, controlled study of undergraduate medical students. Med Teach.
  2. How to use a clinical decision analysis. A. Are the results of the study valid?
  3. How to use a clinical decision analysis. B. What are the results and will they help me in caring for my patients.
  4. Prevention effectiveness: a guide to decision analysis and economic evaluation.
  5. Tips for learning and teaching evidence-based medicine: introduction to the series.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.