How to develop clinical reasoning in medical students and interns based on illness script theory: An experimental study

Somayeh Delavari, Alireza Monajemi*, Hamid Reza Baradaran, Phyo Kyaw Myint, Minoo Yaghmaei, Seyed Kamran Soltani-Arabshahi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Although theory explains the development of illness script, it does not provide answers how medical students develop scripts in their learning. To fill the knowledge gap of developing illness script in medical students and interns, this study aimed to investigate the impact of educational strategies inspired by theory in the development of illness scripts.
Methods: A total of 15 medical students and 12 interns participated in an educational intervention that included theory-driven strategies. To evaluate the impact of this intervention, clinical reasoning problem (CRP) and key features (KF) tests were used for before and after the intervention. In addition to descriptive statistics, the differences in participants’ pretest and posttest variables were tested using Wilcoxon. Significance level was set at p≤0.05 for all tests.
Results: Interns significantly recognized more KF in the posttest. However, no significant difference was found between the pretest and posttest scores in total diagnostic accuracy (5.41±1.16 vs 4.91±1.44; p=0.111) and total correct discriminating score (0.41±0.66 vs 1.41±2.06; p=0.146). Medical students produced less total key features in the posttest, indicating that they became less elaborate in their case processing. However, no significant difference was observed in common KF score (0.4 [0.25-0.78] vs 0.9 [0.6-1]; p=0.791) and discriminative key features score (0.33 [0.16-0.33] vs 0.22 [0.11-0.44]; p=0.972) in the posttest compared to the pretest.
Conclusion: This study showed that theory-driven educational strategies have an impact on illness script development specifically in interns. It is recommended that this intervention would be tested on those in higher levels of expertise (ie, residents).
Original languageEnglish
Article number34:9
Pages (from-to)63-67
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Issue number1
Early online date20 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Illness script
  • Clinical reasoning
  • Clinical decision-making
  • Medical education
  • Medical student
  • Education
  • Undergraduate


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