Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of brmedjLink to Publisher's site
Br Med J. 1975 May 31; 2(5969): 486–489.
PMCID: PMC1673456

Relative contributions of history-taking, physical examination, and laboratory investigation to diagnosis and management of medical outpatients.


To evaluate the relative importance of the medical history, the physical examination, and laboratory investigations in the diagnosis and management of medical outpatients some physicians recorded their diagnosis and a prediction of the method of managementafter reading the patient's referral letter, again after taking the history, and againafter performing the physical examination. These diagnoses and predictions were compared with the diagnosis and method of management which had been adopted two months after the patient's initial attendance. A diagnosis that agreed with the one finally accepted was made after reading the referral letter and taking the history in 66 out of 80 new patients; the physical examination was useful in only seven patients, and the laboratory investigations in a further seven. In only one of six patients in whom the physician was unable to make any diagnosis after taking the history and examining the patient did laboratory investigations lead to a positive diagnosis.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (839K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page.

Articles from British Medical Journal are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group