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Comparing narrative versus numerical display of functional information: impact on sense-making.

Weir C, Dunlea R, Staggers N, Dooing-Harris K, Mccormick T, Barrus R. Comparing narrative versus numerical display of functional information: impact on sense-making. Studies in health technology and informatics. 2014 Jan 1; 205:609-13.

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Contextual information consists of functional, social, and financial information about patients. Physicians routinely have difficulty incorporating contextual information into clinical decision-making despite the emphasis on patient-centered care and functional status. One reason for this difficulty is that such information is not well-represented in the patient medical record. This study assesses the impact of a "story-form" model versus a "medical" model on a practitioner''s ability to recall and incorporate contextual information. We assessed this question through the analysis of responses of 30 clinicians to 2 vignettes presenting contextual information in both formats. Overall, there was a statistically significant difference between the narrative and numerical form with those receiving the narrative form for contextual information being more likely to consider it a top issue. Reference to goals in the report of key clinical factors was also significantly higher for the group receiving goal information. Implications for sharing contextual information in EMRs are discussed.

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