Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Doctors' 'gut feeling' should not be ignored, study suggests

Date:
September 25, 2012
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Doctors who experience a gut feeling about serious illness when treating a child in primary care should take action upon this feeling and not ignore it, a study suggests.

Doctors who experience a gut feeling about serious illness when treating a child in primary care should take action upon this feeling and not ignore it, a study published today on bmj.com suggests.

Related Articles


Serious infection can easily be missed in young children and making a diagnosis has been described as "like finding a needle in a haystack." A clinician's intuitive feeling that something is wrong, even after examination that suggests otherwise, appears to have diagnostic value, even greater diagnostic value than most symptoms and signs. Studies have suggested it should be seen as highly important in its own right but there is lack of understanding about whether it can be seen as useful.

Researchers from Oxford and Belgium therefore carried out an observational study on 3890 children between the ages of 0-16 years who presented in primary care in Flanders, Belgium in 2004. They wanted to see what added value gut feeling provides to a diagnosis. Factors recorded included the doctor's overall impression and whether gut feeling suggested something more serious was wrong. Gut feeling was defined as "intuitive feeling that something was wrong even if the clinician was unsure why."

Out of the 3369 children assessed as having a non-severe illness at the time of consultation, six (0.2%) were later admitted to hospital with a serious infection. Results show that acting on gut feeling had the potential to prevent two of the six cases being missed at the cost of 44 false alarms, but that these were not "unmanageable." The probability of a serious infection decreased from 0.2% to 0.1% when gut feeling was absent.

In fact, 21 out of the 3890 children were eventually admitted to hospital with a serious infection and nine were not referred at first contact. However, in four of the nine children, the doctor had a gut feeling that something serious was wrong.

The feature most strongly associated with gut feeling was a history of convulsions and the child's overall appearance and breathing.The authors also found that gut feeling is strongly influenced by parental concern that the illness is different. Finally, less experienced clinicians reported it more frequently than their more senior counterparts. However, the diagnostic power of gut feeling was no better in experienced than non-experienced clinicians.

The authors recommend that medical teaching should make clear that an "inexplicable gut feeling is an important diagnostic sign and a very good reason for seeking the opinion of someone with more paediatric expertise or performing additional testing." They say that gut feeling should make three things mandatory: conducting a full and careful examination; seeking advice from a more experienced clinician and providing the parent with safety netting advice. They conclude that clinicians should not ignore gut feeling and use it in decision making.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Van den Bruel, M. Thompson, F. Buntinx, D. Mant. Clinicians' gut feeling about serious infections in children: observational study. BMJ, 2012; 345 (sep25 2): e6144 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e6144

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Doctors' 'gut feeling' should not be ignored, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925183630.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2012, September 25). Doctors' 'gut feeling' should not be ignored, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925183630.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Doctors' 'gut feeling' should not be ignored, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925183630.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins