Episode 053: How patients feel about GPs using gut feelings

In this episode we speak to Dr Claire Friedemann Smith who is a senior researcher at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care, University of Oxford

Paper: Building the case for the use of gut-feelings in cancer referrals: perspectives of patients referred to a non-specific symptoms pathway 

Despite the reported diagnostic utility for cancer of GPs’ gut feelings and the role they may play in facilitating diagnosis through prompting investigation, research has not explored the use of gut-feelings in clinical decision making with patients. Our study found that patients were supportive of the use of gut-feelings if they facilitated investigations but cautioned against their use if it meant that investigations would be deferred or denied. Patients discussed the difficulty facing GPs of having to fit individuals to referral ‘tick boxes’ in order to make a referral, were aware of the time pressured and resource limited conditions of primary care practice, and raised these as reasons for why GPs’ use of gut-feelings is justified. Patients share GPs’ concerns around gut-feelings overburdening NHS resources and increasing the risk of negligence and litigation and these should be investigated.

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