The value of basic science in clinical diagnosis: creating coherence among signs and symptoms
- Additional Document Info
- View All
BACKGROUND: We investigated whether learning basic science mechanisms may have mnemonic value in helping students remember signs and symptoms, in comparison with learning the relation between symptoms and diagnoses directly. PURPOSE: To compare 2 approaches to learning diagnosis: learning how features of various conditions relate to underlying pathophysiological mechanisms and learning the conditional probabilities of features and diseases. METHODS: Undergraduate students (n = 36) were taught 4 disorders (upper motor neuron lesion, lower motor neuron lesion, neuromuscular junction disease and muscular disease), either using basic science explanations or (symptom x disease) probabilities. They were tested with diagnostic cases immediately after learning and 1 week later. RESULTS: On the immediate test, there was no difference in the results. One week later, the accuracy of the mechanism group remained at 0.52, but the performance of the probability group had dropped to 0.43. CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge of basic science may have value in clinical diagnosis by helping students recall or reconstruct the relationships between features and diagnoses.
has subject area