Researchers examine how gut feelings are formulated


Is it a sixth sense or logic at its finest?

If you have a tendency to go with your “gut feeling,” you’re not alone. The question is: What are your gut feelings actually telling you? Do they help predict outcomes or are they just hunger pangs?

A team of researchers from the Netherlands set out to determine how doctors use their gut feelings. Researchers worked with 27 medical opinion leaders to define gut feelings, according to an article recently published in BMC Family Practice. The research showed that gut feelings can be divided into two categories- a “sense of alarm” and a “sense of reassurance.”

With the sense of alarm, a person may come to a conclusion without any concrete facts. For example, a doctor may decide to check a patient for diabetes, even if the patient was not showing the classic symptoms of the disease.

“A sense of alarm activates the diagnostic process by stimulating a general practitioner to formulate and weigh up working hypotheses that might involve a serious outcome,” says researcher Erik Stolper. “The sense will decrease as the diagnosis and the right management become clearer.”

On the other hand, a doctor experiencing a sense of reassurance gut feeling would be confident with his ordered course of treatment, even if uncertain about the diagnosis.

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