The Relationship between Critical Thinking and Confidence in Decision-Making

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Hoffman and Elwin’s (2003) article examines ’The Relationship Between Critical Thinking and Confidence in Decision Making’ for new graduate nurses. The authors aim to prove that no correlation exists between higher order reasoning of new graduates and their ability to make sound clinical choices in relation to patient management. Critical thinking in the nursing field is defined as decision making based on the analysis of clinical problems through reflection and reasoning to ensure optimum patient outcomes. US and UK studies found no link between critical thinking and clinical decision making while Korean research identifies a positive correlation. Underlying the significance of Hoffman and Elwin’s study is the lack of evidence supporting a link between the two. The hypothesis states no relationship exists between confidence in decision making and critical thinking for graduate nurses. The sample population comprised 83 graduates from 11 universities across metropolitan and regional NSW, Australia. Using correlation design over twelve months, responses from two groups were collected using the 80 question Watson & Glaser Critical thinking assessment tool (WGCTA), a ‘Confidence in decision making scale,' 0-5 range, and demographic questionnaires. Data was collected and analysed using SPSS spreadsheet and database respectively. Results demonstrate a weak negative correlation between critical thinking and decision making for new nursing graduates. As scores for critical thinking increased a reduction in confident decision making was observed. Therefore graduates can be grouped as those who think too critically and those who think less critically. The first group of individuals may reach accurate clinical conclusions but time taken may adversely affect patient outcomes. Conversely, a graduate who thinks less critically may be overconfident taking less time to consider clinical variables, ultimately placing patients at risk. The hypothesis is therefore rejected....
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