Socializing identity through practice: A mixed methods approach to family medicine resident perspectives on uncertainty

Christy J.W. Ledford, Lauren A. Cafferty, Dean A. Seehusen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Uncertainty is a central theme in the practice of medicine and particularly primary care. This study explored how family medicine resident physicians react to uncertainty in their practice. METHODS: This study incorporated a two-phase mixed methods approach, including semi-structured personal interviews (n=21) and longitudinal selfreport surveys (n=21) with family medicine residents. RESULTS: Qualitative analysis showed that though residents described uncertainty as an implicit part of their identity, they still developed tactics to minimize or manage uncertainty in their practice. Residents described increasing comfort with uncertainty the longer they practiced and anticipated that growth continuing throughout their careers. Quantitative surveys showed that reactions to uncertainty were more positive over time; however, the difference was not statistically significant. DISCUSSION: Qualitative and quantitative results show that as family medicine residents practice medicine their perception of uncertainty changes. To reduce uncertainty, residents use relational information-seeking strategies. From a broader view of practice, residents describe uncertainty neutrally, asserting that uncertainty is simply part of the practice of family medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-553
Number of pages5
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice

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