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Experts opinions differ from practitioners -January 2012

So-called experts might be wrong more often than we think. This at least is suggested by the outcome of a comparison between what midwives say they do and what experts say they think midwives do. This comparison reveals certain remarkable differences of opinion from ´within´ and ´without´. Thus midwives more often advise that expectant mothers give birth in a natural way. Also they put more emphasis on educational advice than experts tend to think. And again, they prescribe medicine and medical treatment less frequently than assumed by experts in their field.

These differences of opinion persist, notwithstanding the fact that both midwives and professional experts in their field cooperate a lot, practically speaking. It was precisely for this reason that these experts were asked to include their opinion in the job descriptions that were gathered for 150 occupations in 8 European countries over the past few years. Wage Indicator job observations were used to collect the information that made this comparison possible.

When trying to assess the significance of this discrepancy in findings, it should be borne in mind that midwives were just one of 150 occupations charted. There is no specific reason to believe that other occupations and relevant ´expert´ opinions are exempt to possible shortcomings of the presumably well informed. These therefore should not be followed blindly.