The role of methods in maintaining orthodox beliefs in health research

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Feb;58(4):675-85. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(03)00219-3.


Views about correct ways of obtaining knowledge develop from socially constructed tenets and beliefs. The dominant beliefs about how health research should be conducted are derived from the biomedical model of human health. The beliefs are maintained by traditions developed in support of the orthodox model and by power relationships. This paper examines the impact of the orthodox views of the biomedical model on the research methods used to investigate population health issues. Experimental design is the "gold standard" for research in the biomedical model. Beliefs about the superiority of experimental research have affected most types of health research. The role that methods assume in maintaining the orthodoxy is examined. Acceptance in other health disciplines of the attitudes of the dominant paradigm and limited options for research and training in alternatives to the orthodoxy became major influences reinforcing orthodox beliefs about health research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Biometry / methods
  • Causality
  • Culture
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Knowledge*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Philosophy, Medical*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sociology, Medical*