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October 1967

Computer Model for a Clinical Diagnostic Theory

Author Affiliations

St. Louis
From the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(4):498-505. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730280114014

HOW does the clinician process patient information to arrive at a diagnosis? Can the diagnostic procedure be described accurately enough to be duplicated on a computer?

The purpose of this study is to answer the above questions and to develop a precise description of a theory of the diagnostic procedure. It has been observed by Uhr that the precise description of a complex theory is not at all trivial, and that recent attempts to put such theories as Hebb's and Hull's into precise, testable form have met with major difficulties.1 In a recent article on computer aids to medical diagnosis, Ledley has stated that before computers can be used effectively for aiding medical diagnosis we need to know more about the process by which the physician makes a medical diagnosis, more about how this process can be formalized in systematic mathematical terms, and more about methods for recording the