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Logo of jroyalcgpracBJGP at RCGPBJGP at PubMed CentralJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralRCGP homepage
J R Coll Gen Pract. 1979 February; 29(199): 71–74.
PMCID: PMC2159128

Intuition and problem solving


General practitioners use the hypothetico-deductive method of scientific reasoning to solve problems. In the first few minutes of their consultations physicians form initial hypotheses about their patients' problems. This process has childlike, imaginative qualities based on intuition. It is often outside consciousness and probably based on pattern recognition. It has been neglected from study and analysis because of these `mystical' qualities. Yet it is the key to fast and efficient problem solving. If the process could be understood, its efficiency would be improved. This paper is an attempt to explore the nature of general practitioners' intuition.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Crombie DL. The James Mackenzie lecture. 'Cum scientia caritas'. Practitioner. 1972 Jan;208(243):146–159. [PubMed]
  • Elstein AS, Kagan N, Shulman LS, Jason H, Loupe MJ. Methods and theory in the study of medical inquiry. J Med Educ. 1972 Feb;47(2):85–92. [PubMed]
  • Leaper DJ, Gill PW, Staniland JR, Horrocks JC, de Dombal FT. Clinical diagnostic process: an analysis. Br Med J. 1973 Sep 15;3(5880):569–574. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • McWhinney IR. Problem-solving and decision-making in primary medical practice. Proc R Soc Med. 1972 Nov;65(11):934–938. [PubMed]

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