“Evidence-based medicine” (EBM), a term coined in the early 1990s, has become a key component of medical education and clinical practice internationally. January’s authors consider how physicians should best use EBM in medical decision making—balancing statistical evidence from systematic research with their own knowledge and experience and the unique characteristics and values of the individual patient. Contributors also consider aspects of EBM that relate to medical education, including the incorporation of ethics into the teaching of EBM—topics relevant to mentors and trainees alike.
Jodi Halpern, MD, PhD and Richard L. Kravitz, MD, MSPH
Just as people frequently support political parties without endorsing their entire platforms, perhaps physicians can support a health care advocacy organization without agreeing with its screening guidelines.
This process of developing EBM-based guidelines and applying them to clinical care highlights the tension between generating unbiased knowledge based on statistical aggregation and the application of this information to individual patients.
There is much to be gained by integrating ethics and EBM, focusing on the implications of uncertainty for clinical practice and exploring the effect a clinician’s values have on acquisition and application of evidence.