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Rev Med Suisse. 2006 Sep 27;2(80):2150-3.

[General practice--linear thinking and complexity].

[Article in French]

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Policlinique de médecine, Département de médecine communautaire, HUG, Genève 14.


As physicians, we apply and teach linear thinking. This approach permits to dissect the patient's problem to the molecular level and has contributed enormously to the knowledge and progress of medicine. The linear approach is particularly useful in medical education, in quantitative research and helps to resolve simple problems. However, it risks to be rigid. Living beings (such as patients and physicians!) have to be considered as complex systems. A complex system cannot be dissected into its parts without losing its identity. It is dependent on its past and interactions with the outside are often followed by unpredictable reactions. The patient-centred approach in medicine permits the physician, a complex system himself, to integrate the patient's system and to adapt to his reality. It is particularly useful in general medicine.

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