Cadernos de Saúde Pública
Print version ISSN 0102-311X
CAMARGO JR., Kenneth R. de. On haystacks, needles, doctors, and medical knowledge: the thought style of physicians. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2003, vol.19, n.4, pp. 1163-1174. ISSN 0102-311X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X2003000400037.
This paper, the second in a series, reports on a study designed to assess how physicians operate selective mechanisms to sort out relevant and/or reliable information from what is presented to them. Twenty-four professors of internal medicine from two leading medical schools in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, answered open-ended interviews. The conceptual framework adopted is based on Ludwik Fleck's work (on thought style). The thought style that emerged from this set of interviews can be briefly characterized as a largely intuitive, pragmatic, results-oriented search for relevant (i.e., potentially useful in practice) information, selected from sources with sufficient academic credibility and submitted to a primacy of practical knowledge. However, despite this skepticism, doctors lack resources (i.e. time, as well as knowledge of technical aspects of research, particularly in terms of epidemiology and statistics) to effectively assess the knowledge that is constantly being force-fed to them.
Keywords : Medical Anthropology; Medical Knowledge; Thought Style.