Gut feelings of patients in general practice: validating a questionnaire

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Abstract accepted for presentation (workshop Clinical Decision Making, 2021 April)


Research indicated that patients’ feelings of worriedness play a role in their physicians’ clinical reasoning and judgment of clinical tribunals. Interviews with primary care workers and patients showed how these feelings are expressed. Based on these expressions we developed a questionnaire to measure gut feelings of patients.

Research question

Is the Gut Feelings Questionaire for patients (GFQ-pat) valid and does it measure a different construct than hypochondria?


The GFQ-pat contained 10 items distinguishing a sense of reassurance (SR, 2 items), a sense alarm (SA, 4 items) and a sense for need of management (SNM, 3 items). We examined construct and discriminant validity using an online questionnaire filled out by 181 healthy participants of 18-30 years old. After the Whiteley-Index-7 (7 items) measuring hypochondria, participants filled out the GFQ-pat for three different vignettes presenting a clear SR and SA case and an ambiguous case. Specific hypotheses tested validity.


For the SA and SR case, analysis showed one factor with SR and SA items as opposites, high internal consistency and expected correlations among these items. Participants scored higher on the SA than the SR items in the SA case and the other way around in the SR case. The SNM items did not show clear patterns. In the ambiguous case, participants scored higher on the SR items than the SA items, also the two groups scoring highest and lowest on the Whitley-Index-7.


The GFQ-pat with SA and SR items is valid measuring gut feelings in specific cases.

Margje van de Wiel, Antoinet Hoekman, Paul Van Royen and Erik Stolper