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The University of Southampton

HMPR3006 Decision Making in Healthcare

Module Overview

Good decisions underpin good health services at every level. The key message of this module is that decision-making can be improved, by effective use of data and modelling, an understanding of both rational and non-rational approaches and by the development of ethical judgement. The purpose of the module is to enable you to analyse complex decisions from a number of perspectives, to appraise evidence and to evaluate underpinning organisational, social and technological processes. You will learn to deconstruct and critique specific decisions influencing health services by using real life reports and inquiries. Your confidence and ability to analyse and critique decisions is improved through self-awareness, insight into issues of power and influence and appreciation of the broader context. Throughout the module your learning draws on contemporary issues and challenges facing health care as reported in the media, enacted through policy guidance and through accounts of experiences.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Deconstruct a complex decision using theoretical models, from problem analysis through to implementation and evaluation
  • Identify key influences and descriptors including personal and human factors; technology; laws, guidelines and processes; values, ethics and culture
  • Explain the importance of judgement in decision-making and outcomes, identifying critical points of commitment, closure/action and opportunities for intervention
  • Debate the role of partnership and collaborative decision-making - with people using services, commissioning or providing - in health care, establishing the case for inclusive approaches in a given area specialism or region


• Seminal theoretical concepts and models in assessment, judgement and decision-making for example heuristics, stage theories and economic models • Rational and non-rationale approaches to decision making • Contested personal factors. Including heuristics, bias, experience, knowledge, intuition, values, beliefs, social support systems • The place of problem analysis: quality of data, information search, tests, use of tools to aid decision-making, technology, contextual influences, collaborative and partnership approaches, risk of early closure • Comparison of ethical and normative frameworks influencing health provision • Evaluating decisions in light of conflicting agendas, values and ideologies, perspective taking, integration of rational/non-rational approaches, synthesising sources of internal/external information, evaluation of outcomes, post-hoc reviews and reports.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module will include large and small group work, interactive lectures, peer support and workshop activities. Key concepts will be introduced in short lectures and explored through recommended reading, video and audio resources, classroom-based discussion. Critique, appraisal and application of key concepts to contemporary issues will be through independent and peer-supported inquiry. Formative work will be reviewed by peers and learning outcomes used to offer feedback and developmental opportunities.

Wider reading or practice30
Completion of assessment task51
Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Follow-up work30
Total study time188

Resources & Reading list

Kahneman, D (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. 

Loughlin, M. (2001). Ethics, Management and Mythology: Rational Decision Making for Health Service Professionals. 

Klein, G. (2009). Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making. 


Assessment Strategy

Referral Method 3500 word essay


MethodPercentage contribution
Conference presentation  (1500 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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