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

by Allen S. Ginsberg, Fred L. Offensend

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A specific medical diagnostic-treatment problem, characterized as a sequential decision under uncertainty, is solved by decision-theoretic techniques. The basic assumption in the construction of the model is that the doctor wishes to choose the course of action that will maximize his and/or the patient's "satisfaction," i.e., to maximize expected utility of all possible actions and outcomes. Despite shortcomings of this particular analysis, especially in problems encountered in a more general setting, further research is encouraged in decision-theoretic techniques as an effective means of solving complex diagnostic-treatment problems facing physicians today.

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