Title

Managing Scientific Uncertainty in Medical Decision Making: The Case of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

Department

Political Science & International Affairs

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-2012

Abstract

This article explores the question of how scientific uncertainty can be managed in medical decision making using the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as a case study. It concludes that where a high degree of technical consensus exists about the evidence and data, decision makers act according to a clear decision rule. If a high degree of technical consensus does not exist and uncertainty abounds, the decision will be based on a variety of criteria, including readily available resources, decision-process constraints, and the available knowledge base, among other things. Decision makers employ a variety of heuristic devices and techniques, thereby employing a pragmatic approach to uncertainty in medical decision making. The article concludes with recommendations for managing scientific uncertainty in medical decision making.