Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Surgery & Cancer

Reader in Medical Decision Making



o.kostopoulou Website




5.07Medical SchoolSt Mary's Campus





Olga is an applied experimental psychologist studying judgement and decision making. Her main focus is the application of Psychology theory, evidence and experimental methods to the study of medical decisions. She has conducted research on professional judgement and decision making in a variety of healthcare contexts, including dentistry, neonatal and adult intensive care, surgery, and primary care. As Principal Investigator and Co-investigator, she has obtained funding from the Department of Health, Cancer Research UK, and the European Commission for studies in diagnosis, diagnostic error, decision support, and referral decision making. 

Olga was the 2021-22 President of the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM). In the past, she served SMDM as President-Elect (2020-21), Immediate Past President and Chair of the Nominations Committee (2022-23), and International Trustee (2013-2016). She organised and chaired the 16th biennial European SMDM meeting (London, 12-14 June, 2016).

She is Associate Editor of Medical Decision Making and Frontiers in Cognition (Reason and Decision-Making section).

Research Interests

  • Decision making processes
  • Behaviour change through boosting or nudging
  • The communication of risk and uncertainty
  • Decision aids, algorithms, decision support systems: their design, use, and interaction with human judgement
  • Individual differences in judgement and decision making

Olga is looking for exceptional candidates willing to apply to the London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (LISS DTP) and the President's PhD Scholarship scheme, and early career postdocs for the highly-competitive Imperial College Research Fellowships

current & recent research grants:

1. Cancer Research UK project award: "Cancer risk algorithms and their influence on clinical judgement." Amount awarded: £382,853. From February 2020 to January 2024.

Olga Kostopoulou (PI). Researchers: Bence Pálfi (Postdoctoral Research Associate), Kavleen Arora (Clinical Research Fellow).

2. Cancer Research UK project award: "Demonstrating the feasibility of a Learning Health System for cancer diagnosis in primary care." PI: Brendan Delaney.

Olga Kostopoulou: Co-I, Work package lead. Amount allocated: £202,675. 2018-2021. Researcher: Christian Ramtale.

3. Cancer Research UK project award: "Investigating delays in the detection of early cancers: an exploration of GPs' decision making based on Signal Detection Theory." Amount awarded: £308,944. From March 2016 to February 2019.

Olga Kostopoulou (PI). Co-investigators: Brendan Delaney, Francesca Fiorentino. Researcher: Martine Nurek.

4. Cancer Research UK project award: "An investigation of the cognitive factors for missing early presentations of cancer in primary care". Amount awarded: £330,772. From September 2011 to December 2015.

Olga Kostopoulou (PI). Co-investigator: Brendan Delaney. Researchers: Miroslav Sirota, Thomas Round, Shyamalee Samaranayaka. 

5. EU FP7 programme grant: Translational Research and Patient Safety in Europe (TRANSFoRm)- Scientific co-ordinator: Brendan Delaney. From March 2010 to May 2015

Olga Kostopoulou (Lead of Work Package 2: "Developing diagnostic support for primary care"). Researchers: Andrea Rosen, Thomas Round, Talya Porat. Amount allocated to WP2: €594,554

Decision Psychology Research group:

PhD students:

Ploutarchos Kourtidis. "Influences of a diagnostic decision aid on physicians’ thinking". Graduated 2022. Funding: NIHR Imperial PSTRC.

Martine Nurek. "Predecisional information distortion in physicians' diagnostic judgements". Graduated 2017. Funding: LISS-DTP (London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership).

Amanda Woolley. "Clinical Intuition in General Practice: A Cognitive Psychology Perspective". Graduated 2015. Funding: Departmental Doctoral grant.

Visiting researchers: 

Dafina Petrova (Mind, Brain, & Behavior Research Center, University of Granada, Spain) - September to December 2015 

Recent Invited talks: 

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Kostopoulou O, Nurek M, Delaney B, 2020, Disentangling the relationship between physician and organizational performance: a signal detection approach, Medical Decision Making, Vol:40, ISSN:0272-989X, Pages:746-755

Kostopoulou O, Nurek M, Cantarella S, et al., 2019, Referral decision making of General Practitioners: a signal detection study, Medical Decision Making, Vol:39, ISSN:0272-989X, Pages:21-31

Sirota M, Kostopoulou O, Round T, et al., 2017, Prevalence and alternative explanations influence cancer diagnosis: an experimental study with physicians, Health Psychology, Vol:36, ISSN:1930-7810, Pages:477-485

Sirota M, Round T, Samaranayaka S, et al., 2017, Expectations for antibiotics increase their prescribing: causal evidence about localized impact, Health Psychology, Vol:36, ISSN:1930-7810, Pages:402-409

Kostopoulou O, Porat T, Corrigan D, et al., 2017, Diagnostic accuracy of GPs when using an early-intervention decision support system: a high-fidelity simulation, British Journal of General Practice, Vol:67, ISSN:1478-5242, Pages:e201-e208

Kostopoulou O, 2006, The transient nature of utilities and health preferences, Medical Decision Making, Vol:26, ISSN:0272-989X, Pages:304-306

Kostopoulou O, Sirota M, Round T, et al., 2016, The role of physicians’ first impressions in the diagnosis of possible cancers without alarm symptoms, Medical Decision Making, Vol:37, ISSN:1552-681X, Pages:9-16

Vadillo MA, Kostopoulou O, Shanks DR, 2015, A critical review and meta-analysis of the unconscious thought effect in medical decision making, Frontiers in Psychology, Vol:6, ISSN:1664-1078

Woolley A, Kostopoulou O, Delaney BC, 2015, Can medical diagnosis benefit from "unconscious thought"?, Medical Decision Making, Vol:36, ISSN:1552-681X, Pages:541-549

Kostopoulou O, Rosen A, Round T, et al., 2015, Early diagnostic suggestions improve accuracy of GPs: a randomised controlled trial using computer-simulated patients, British Journal of General Practice, Vol:65, ISSN:0960-1643, Pages:E49-E54

Nurek M, Kostopoulou O, Hagmayer Y, 2014, Predecisional information distortion in physicians’ diagnostic judgments: Strengthening a leading hypothesis or weakening its competitor?, Judgment and Decision Making, Vol:9, ISSN:1930-2975, Pages:572-585

Kostopoulou O, Russo JE, Keenan G, et al., 2012, Information Distortion in Physicians' Diagnostic Judgments, Medical Decision Making, Vol:32, ISSN:0272-989X, Pages:831-839

Kostopoulou O, Mousoulis C, Delaney BC, 2009, Information search and information distortion in the diagnosis of an ambiguous presentation, Judgment and Decision Making, Vol:4, ISSN:1930-2975, Pages:408-418

Kostopoulou O, Delaney BC, Munro CW, 2008, Diagnostic difficulty and error in primary care - a systematic review, Family Practice, Vol:25, ISSN:0263-2136, Pages:400-413


Kostopoulou O, Sirota M, Round T, et al., 2014, The role of information gathering and physician experience in detecting early presentations of cancer in primary care, WILEY-BLACKWELL, Pages:29-29, ISSN:0961-5423

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