The correlation of feature identification and category judgments in diagnostic radiology
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Expert and novice radiologists were given films accompanied by clinical histories that supported a diagnosis either of bronchiolitis or of normal. To provide a plausible task context, some films were radiologically unambiguous and were accompanied by histories consistent with them. For a set of radiologically difficult films from confirmed normal or bronchiolitis patients, fictitious normal or abnormal histories were counterbalanced with the films. The clinical histories affected ratings both of diagnosis and of features present on the difficult films. Thus, uncertainty about individual features evidently was affected by history, and features did not act as an independent source of information. The dependence of feature calls on an overall judgment was also suggested by intra-observer agreement in another study in which an explicit diagnosis was not requested. It is unclear whether the history increased discrimination between normal and abnormal films, or indiscriminately added evidence for or against the disease. Factors are discussed that make it appropriate for feature identification to be partially dependent on category identification.
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