COGITA Expert Group

15 October 2008: Start of the Cogita expert group

Professionals in all fields use the full continuum of analytical and non-analytic, intuitive  modes of work. 1;2 Medical practitioners are expected by the public to rely on analytical, science based cognitive processes. However, to function in their everyday practice settings, requires them to make use non-analytical tools too. The relevance and validity of heuristics and “gut feelings” is increasingly recognized. This may be particularly relevant for general practitioners (GPs), all over Europe who are often faced with complicated, poorly defined problems in situations of uncertainty which they have to solve at short notice.3 In such situations of uncertainty, gut feelings may play a substantial role in the diagnostic process. However, hardly any evidence was available of current use, the diagnostic and prognostic value of gut feelings in daily practice. How non-analytical processes should be dealt with and the feasability of including gut feelings in medical education was even less clear.

A lot of research has been done. The main research questions concerned the definition of gut feelings, the exploration of their role in routine practice in terms of relevant determinants and diagnostic value, and a suitable explanation of this phenomenon in terms of established theoretical frameworks. Even more important is how the concept of gut feelings can be operationalised in medical educational curricula.

To study these questions, an international research group has been established: The European Expert Group on Cognitive and Interactive Processes in Diagnosis and Management in General Practice or Cogita for short. This group received some financial support from the EGPRN.

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