Jinx or Not?: There Is Nothing Like a "Black Cloud" Syndrome

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2017 Oct;33(10):686-689. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000000663.


Objective: The aim of this study was to ascertain the validity of the widespread belief in the existence of jinxed physicians during night duty in emergency department (ED).

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study involving 13 pediatricians with more than 12 spells of night duty (8 PM to 8.30 AM) in the ED at the "La Timone" Medical School Hospital in Marseilles, France, during the inclusion period (from November 1, 2010, to October 31, 2011) and 8 night nurses in the same ED. The 13 pediatricians rated themselves as jinxed and were rated as such by their peers and the night nurses. The number of ED visits (total, medical, and after midnight) and the number of hospitalizations were compared according to the jinx rating of the 13 pediatricians. The secondary outcome was a comparison of the self-assessed jinxed pediatrician group with the other group.

Results: Four pediatricians rated themselves as jinxes. Despite a nonperfect match, self-assessed jinxed pediatricians were also more often rated as being jinxed by their peers or the nurses. There was no difference (for the 13 pediatricians) regarding total ED visits (31.6 [14-57], P = 0.98), ED visits after midnight (10.37 [1-26], P = 0.876), and the number of hospitalizations (4.5 [0-12], P = 0.179). The number of ED visits (total, medical, after midnight) did not differ from the jinxed physicians (all P >0.20) to the other pediatricians, but the mean number of hospitalizations was higher when the pediatrician was rated as a jinx (4.9 vs 4.3, P = 0.034).

Conclusions: We found no evidence of a jinx effect on workload in a pediatric ED.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Culture
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • France
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatricians / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Shift Work Schedule / psychology*
  • Shift Work Schedule / statistics & numerical data
  • Workload / psychology*
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data