Cultivating humility and diagnostic openness in clinical judgment

John R. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In this case, a physician rejects a patient's concerns that tainted water is harming the patient and her community. Stereotypes and biases regarding socioeconomic class and race/ethnicity, constraining diagnostic frameworks, and fixed first impressions could skew the physician's judgment. This paper narratively illustrates how cultivating humility could help the physician truly hear the patient's suggestions. The discussion builds on the multifaceted concept of cultural humility as a lifelong journey that addresses not only stereotypes and biases but also power inequalities and community inequities. Insurgent multiculturalism is a complementary concept. Through epistemic humility-which includes both intellectual and emotional components-and admitting uncertainty, physicians can enhance patients' and families' epistemic authority and health agency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)970-977
Number of pages8
JournalAMA Journal of Ethics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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