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When Should Patient Intuition be Taken Seriously?

By Stephen A. Buetow and Bridget Mintoft


As a style of information processing, intuition involves implicit perceptual and cognitive processes that can be quickly and automatically executed without conscious mental will, such that people know more than they can describe. Patient intuition can influence patient and clinician decision-making and behavior. However, physicians may not always see patient intuition as credible or important, and its management in the clinical setting is poorly understood. This paper takes a step toward suggesting conditions under which patient intuition should be taken seriously. These conditions relate to the credibility or accuracy of the intuitive beliefs held by the patient, and their significance to the patient. Credibility may be increased when the intuitions of patients (1) reflect their individualized knowledge, (2) can complement the common absence of scientific evidence in managing health problems, and (3) can quickly and effectively process key information in complex cognitive tasks. Even intuitions that lack credibility can be subjectively rational and meaningful to patients, and help to shape the decisions they and clinicians make.sch_nur26pub4164pub

Publisher: 'Springer Science and Business Media LLC'
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s11606-010-1576-6
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