ASCP 2018 Highlight: The Role of Decision Biases in Diagnosis

May 02, 2018

Diagnosis in pathology relies on expert analysis of images to detect abnormalities. It is thus critical that we understand how people make decisions based on visual information derived from medical images in order to improve training and minimize the occurrence of misdiagnoses.  The perceptual, cognitive and decision factors that enter into the diagnostic process, will be discussed in a session at the ASCP 2018 Annual Meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 3, titled, “How the heck did I miss that: What can behavioral science tell us about clinical pathology?”

The session will be presented by Jennifer S. Trueblood, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University, and Jeremy M. Wolfe, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology & Radiology at Harvard Medical School. 

A cognitive scientist, Dr. Trueblood is the director of the Judgment and Decision-making Lab (JDM) Lab in the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University. The lab takes a joint experimental and computational modeling approach to study human judgment, decision-making and reasoning. In collaboration with the Department of Pathology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. Trueblood has been looking at how pathologists make decisions. “Pathologists have to look at visual information, process that information and make a decision,” said Dr. Trueblood, who is working in collaboration with Quentin Eichbaum, MD, PhD, MPH, Adam Seegmiller, MD, PhD, and the Department of Pathology at Vanderbilt, which funded the study. “Yet we know errors still occur, and we’re interested in why that is. We use the approach of behavioral experimentation and computational modeling to understand where errors come from.”

Dr. Wolfe is the Director of the Visual Attention Lab at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where his research focuses on visual search and visual attention. For the past decade, medical image perception has been an important part of his research program. “I have been particular interested in situations where an expert fails to report something that is clearly visible, literally ‘right in front of their eyes,’” he said. For the past few years, Dr. Wolfe has coordinated an NCI-funded lab at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. “Clinicians are busy people,” Wolfe notes, “so we take our experiments to them wherever and whenever we can. Jennifer Trueblood and I are looking forward to running a similar lab at ASCP 2018. We hope attendees will have a few minutes to participate in a short experiment or two.”

Watch for more updates on the ASCP 2018 Annual Meeting by clicking here.