Evidence-based policy as reflexive practice. What can we learn from evidence-based medicine?

J Health Serv Res Policy. 2017 Apr;22(2):113-119. doi: 10.1177/1355819616670680. Epub 2016 Oct 15.


The call for evidence-based policy is often accompanied by rather uncritical references to the success of evidence-based medicine, leading to often unsuccessful translation attempts. In this paper, I reflect on the practice of evidence-based medicine in an attempt to sketch a more productive approach to translating evidence into the practice of policy making. Discussing three episodes in the history of evidence-based medicine - clinical trials, and the production and use of clinical guidelines - I conclude that the success of evidence-based medicine is based on the creation of reflexive practices in which evidence and practice can be combined productively. In the conclusion, I discuss the prospects of such a practice for evidence-based policy.

Keywords: evidence-based medicine; evidence-based policy; reflexivity.

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Policy Making
  • Policy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / organization & administration