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An Application of Decision Theory to a Medical Diagnosis-Treatment Problem

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2 Author(s)
Ginsberg, A.S. ; RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif., and Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. 94305 ; Offensend, F.L.

The decision faced by a physician when confronted by a patient with an undetermined disease may be simply stated as: "What course of action, in the form of diagnostic tests and/or treatments, should be taken?" In most cases, this problem can be characterized as a sequential decision under uncertainty. Since this is a class of problems for which decision theory has proved a useful tool, it appears fruitful to attempt to apply it to the physician's problem. In this paper, this possibility is explored by describing the application of decision theoretic techniques to a specific case. We first comment on why we believe the proposed model is more appropriate than other methods of treating the problem. Then the proposed model is briefly described in the abstract. The main body of the paper describes a specific problem and its solution by decision theoretic techniques. In the final section, some of the shortcomings of the particular analysis and some of the problems that might be encountered in a more general setting are pointed out.

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Systems Science and Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 3 )