On the need for evidence-based medicine

Therapie. 1996 May-Jun;51(3):212-7.


Doctors always seek to base their decisions on the best available evidence. Often this evidence represents extrapolations of pathophysiological principles and logic rather than established facts based on data derived from patients. The advent and proliferation of randomized controlled trials have led to a rapid increase in the quantity and quality of clinically valid evidence concerning clinical history taking and physical examination, issues of diagnosis, prognosis, therapy and other important health care issues. As a result it is becoming possible to make explicit much of the implicit non-verbal reasoning of expert clinicians, making their clinical reasoning more comprehensible and accessible to trainees. The ability to track down, critically appraise and incorporate evidence into clinical practice has been named 'evidence-based medicine'. As the quantity of valid evidence increases so does the requirement for each of us to develop the skills necessary to assimilate, evaluate and make best use of that evidence for patients. Often we fail to identify or address our daily needs for clinically important knowledge, leading to a progressive decline in our clinical competency. When we do seek knowledge traditional sources of information such as journals and text-books are often either too disorganized or out of date and we often resort to asking colleagues. The need to maintain and expand clinically important knowledge has been partially addressed by increasing demands for continuing medical education but how might this be best achieved? Recent evaluations suggest that three evidence-based medicine strategies help fulfill these goals. They include; learning evidence-based medicine, seeking and applying evidence-based medical summaries generated by others, and accepting evidence-based protocols developed by others.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Periodicals as Topic
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Professional Practice*