Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Clinical Science


Family Medicine


Dr. Kevin Eva

Second Advisor

Dr. Gillian King

Third Advisor

Dr. Tom Freeman


Aims: To explore the situational factors that are present during moments of uncertainty

that lead family physicians to access external resources of varying type.

Methods: Situational cues were identified using self-observational journaling. A survey was then performed to study physicians' likelihood of accessing external resources in response to each situation.

Findings: Identified situational cues included case aspects such as unfamiliar or complex presentations, potentially serious conditions, failure of previous treatments, and the patient or others in attendance being perceived as anxious, demanding, distrustful or dissatisfied. In all situations, physicians reported greatest likelihood to refer to specialists. However, with conditions that seem unfamiliar or complex, they reported similar likelihood to access internet sources, and in complex situations, to consult with peers.

Conclusions: Both medical and social situational factors led family physicians to access external resources. Consultation with specialists and peers are considered highly valued resources in managing situations of uncertainty.



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