Why clinicians are natural bayesians?

By Gill CJ, Sabin L, Schmid CH.

Summary :

  • Two main approaches are used to draw statistical inferences: frequentist and bayesian.​​
  • The frequentist approach dominates the medical literature. ​​
  • Clinical decision making is fundamentally bayesian. ​​
  • Bayesians interpret the test result not as a probability of a false positive but as the degree to which a positive or negative result adjusts the probability of a given disease. ​​
  • In a sense, the bayesian approach asks, “What is the probability that this patient has the disease, given this test result?” ​​
  • All clinical history questions and physical examinations constitute diagnostic tests, although their sensitivities and specificities are rarely known precisely. ​​
  • Clinicians apply bayesian reasoning in framing and revising differential diagnoses. ​​
  • A Bayesian approach is essential for interpreting surprising test results in the context of history taking and physical examination.