Table 7

Quotations: Role of intuition

"Intuition is the sixth sense, that's what I call it. It's just one of those things that you do without any evidence, and it's probably a good thing, too. You've got to use your common sense and intuition and gut feelings... If you get hung up just on the evidence, you're going to miss some things, and you're going to mistreat somebody and create unnecessary anxiety." FP14

"Intuition plays a huge part in our practice – that non-scientific art of medicine, which I do think is extremely valuable.... We should get the best possible scientific information that we can, but we should also recognize that there are things that we can't understand and we can't explain. I think we would lose a lot if we don't allow our intuition to guide us. Either without the other as a little bit of a check can be disastrous. I think with a good blend of the two, people can become really excellent clinicians." FP07

"I think you still have to rely on intuition and that you have to sort of break the rules now and again, depending on the situation. So I do feel strongly that you can't do only EBM.... You still need to have a sense of where the patient's at. You take EBM into consideration, but in the end you make your own clinical judgment, which is what I actually believe EBM is designed to do." FP09

"I really think that intuition has to have its own proper place in the management of patients. It should not be on a higher pedestal than evidence-based medicine, but it needs to be legitimized and put on an equal pedestal, not on a lower pedestal or discarded altogether because evidence-based medicine says that you must do things in a certain fashion." FP13

"I see it as practicing EBM with the art of medicine behind you. I think that those of us that do it this way still do a lot more evidence-based medicine than people that don't even consider the evidence at all." FP09

"I go with both in my practice. I know what the evidence is, but I still consider my intuition." FP15

"I think a lot of [family practice] is gut feeling based on your experiences with similar patients. So many times you see a patient and you don't really know what's making you feel a certain way, but you get a gestalt about a certain thing. I think when you follow your gut, you're more likely to be successful, but you need the background of understanding what you're doing. I think evidence-based medicine is a background for allowing your intuition to come to the forefront and to help you make a decision. I look at it as two different things. I think the evidence is there, and I think it's important, I think it has to guide us, but I don't think it has to absolutely determine what we do." FP08

"Myself, I also believe that there is still a place for the art of medicine, and it doesn't matter how much evidence you have about something, there are some times when one would do something differently even knowing what the evidence is." FP04


Tracy et al. BMC Family Practice 2003 4:6   doi:10.1186/1471-2296-4-6

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