It is important and urgent to question therelationship between evidence-based medicineand power shifts in healthcare systems.Although definitions of EBM are phrased as ascientific approach to medicine, EBM is anormative concept: it aims to improve medicineand healthcare. Both proponents and opponentsuse a normative concept. More particularly,they provide particular views on positions,responsibilities, possibilities, norms andrelationships between professionals, patientgroups, governments and other parties in healthcare and society. From this perspective, wewant to analyse the role of EBM in (...) modernwestern societies. By using citizenshiptheory, we will argue that the role of EBM isnot fixed but depends on the relation betweenstate and society. We will first analyse thefundamental change in western societies duringthe past decades, from modern to post-modernsocieties. Then, we will elaborate a fourfoldmodel of possible relationships between stateand society, and discuss the issue of how EBM mayfit in, by giving some examples of the practiceof EBM in different European countries. On thisbasis, we conclude to consider EBM as a publicforum where proponents and opponents of EBMdiscuss diverse and possibly conflicting waysof changing medicine, healthcare, and healthpolicy. This requires the incorporation of theperspective of citizens and their socialnetworks, professionals with practical andtacit knowledge, and diverse public views onwhat is regarded as `a good life'. Inasmuch asEBM is expected to be practically relevant, itought to be tied to rather than separated fromthe normative world of emancipated patients anddiverse healthcare practices. Proponents andopponents of EBM should be prepared to defendthe normative claims and power effects that areinherently tied to any presentation ofevidence. (shrink)
The interaction between evidence-based medicineand doctors' duty of care to patients iscomplex. One the one hand, there is surely anobligation to take account of the bestavailable evidence when offering healthcare topatients. On the other hand, it is equallyimportant to be aware of important shortcomingsin the processes and practices ofevidence-based medicine. There are tensionsbetween the population focus of evidence-basedmedicine and the duties that doctors have toindividual patients. Implementingevidence-based medicine may have unpredictableconsequences upon the overall quality of healthcare. (...) Patients may have a range of reasons forpreferring one form of treatment over another,not all of which are captured by currentformulations of evidence. This paper examinesthese issues, using relevant examples fromevidence-based medicine. (shrink)
This article tries to present a broad view on the values and ethicalissues that are at stake in efforts to rationalize health policy on thebasis of economic evaluations (like cost-effectiveness analysis) andrandomly controlled clinical trials. Though such a rationalization isgenerally seen as an objective and `value free' process, moral valuesoften play a hidden role, not only in the production of `evidence', butalso in the way this evidence is used in policy making. For example, thedefinition of effectiveness of medical treatment (...) or healthcare serviceis heavily dependent on dominant individual or social views about thegoals of the particular treatment or service. There is also a concernthat a reliance on EBM in health policy will occur at the expense ofwidely shared social values like equity and solidarity. Moreover, thereis a concern that when economic considerations and rational proceduresbecome more influential, various `outside' groups third parties likeinsurance companies and policy makers will get a stronger influence onmedical practice which may lead to a change in the patient-providerrelationship. The authors conclude that social values and patientpreference should be explicitly addressed when health policy making isbased on economic and other scientific evidence. (shrink)
Background In the context of limited healthcare budgets in countries where Neglected Tropical Diseases are endemic, scaling up disease control interventions entails the setting of priorities. However, solutions based solely on cost-effectiveness analyses may lead to biased and insufficiently justified priorities. Objectives The objectives of this paper are to 1) demonstrate how a range of equity concerns can be used to identify feasible priority setting criteria, 2) show how these criteria can be fed into a multi-criteria decision-making (...) matrix, and 3) discuss the conditions under which this decision-making procedure should be carried out in a real-world decision-making context. Methods This paper draws on elements from theories of decision analysis and ethical theories of fair resource allocation. We explore six typical NTD interventions by employing a modified multi-criteria decision analysis model with predefined criteria, drawn from a priority setting guide under development by the WHO. To identify relevant evidence for the six chosen interventions, we searched the PubMed and Cochrane databases. Discussion Our in vitro multi-criteria decision analysis suggested that case management for visceral leishmaniasis should be given a higher priority than mass campaigns to prevent soil-transmitted helminthic infections. This seems to contradict current healthcare priorities and recommendations in the literature. We also consider procedural conditions that should be met in a contextualised decision-making process and we stress the limitations of this study exercise. Conclusion By exploring how several criteria relevant to the multi-facetted characteristics of NTDs can be taken into account simultaneously, we are able to suggest how improved priority settings among NTDs can be realised. (shrink)
Evidence-based medicine (EBM), by its ability to decrease irrational variations in healthcare, was expected to improve healthcare quality and outcomes. The utility of EBM principles evolved from individual clinical decision-making to wider foundational clinical practice guideline applications, cost containment measures, and clinical quality performance measures. At this evolutionary juncture one can ask the following questions. Given the time-limited exigencies of daily clinical practice, is it tenable for clinicians to follow guidelines? Whose or what interests are served by (...) applying performance assessments? Does such application improve medical care quality? What happens when the best interests of vested parties conflict? Mindful of the constellation of socially and clinically relevant variables influencing health outcomes, is it fair to apply evidence-based performance assessment tools to judge the merits of clinical decision-making? Finally, is it fair and just to incentivize clinicians in ways that might sway clinical judgment? To address these questions, we consider various clinical applications of performance assessment strategies, examining what performance measures purport to measure, how they are measured and whether such applications demonstrably improve quality. With attention to the merits and frailties associated with such applications, we devise and defend criteria that distinguish between justice-sustaining and justice-threatening performance-based clinical protocols. (shrink)
We claim that if a complete philosophy of evidence-based practice is intended, then attention to the nature of causation in health science is necessary. We identify how health science currently conceptualises causation by the way it prioritises some research methods over others. We then show how the current understanding of what causation is serves to constrain scientific progress. An alternative account of causation is offered. This is one of dispositionalism. We claim that by understanding causation from a dispositionalist (...) stance, many of the processes within an evidence-based practice framework are better accounted for. Further, some of the problems associated with the health research, e.g. external validity of causal findings, dissolve. (shrink)
Studies on healthcare practices, financing, and organization increasingly rely on Medicare and other expanded data sets. These studies are of critical importance for public policy and for the development of strategies to contain escalating healthcare costs, but they often use data that have been corrupted by fraud and abuse. Mistaken conclusions, as to the effectiveness of policy and procedures, are likely being reached in studies that have used corrupted data. Researchers need to consider the (...) suspect nature of results obtained from the corrupted data, and determine methods for making the data more valid. (shrink)
Despite the entrenched acceptance of normal science in healthcare, it appears that authoritative, positivist, linear, risk averse, certainty-based thinking can only get us so far along the route of optimum health. This paper examines labor and childbirth as a paradigm case of a complex adaptive system (CAS) and offers the example of techniques used in a master-level course on normal childbirth to illustrate how maternity care clinicians can be introduced to complexity-based thinking through reflexive analysis (...) of real life clinical narratives. It suggests that these techniques might be used as a basis for answering the question, what is likely to work for this person, in this situation, given the range of evidence, and given their values and beliefs, my values and beliefs, and my clinical skills and knowledge? Topics discussed in this paper include complexity, pregnancy, and childbirth; mainstreaming complexity-focused decision making in maternity care; and using story in practice. In conclusion, complexity theory appears to offer a good explanatory model for pregnancy and childbirth, both in general, and for specific individuals. Future work in this area should examine the efficacy and limits to formal story telling in maternity care, with the aim of increasing optimal maternity care for mothers and babies, and for the staff and organizations that deliver the care. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Individualized care and equality of care remain two imperatives for formulating any scientifically and morally informed public health policy. Yet both continue to be elusive goals, even in the age of genomics, proteomics, and evidence-based medicine. Nonetheless, with the rapid growth and improvement of human biotechnologies, the need to individualize therapies while allocating medical care equally may result partly from our biological constitution. Human beings are all unique, and their biological differences significantly influence variability in disease (...) causation and therapeutic response to treatments. However, because humans have equal moral worth, there is no ethically justifiable reason to establish an a .. (shrink)
Relationships, jobs, and health behaviors-these are what New Year's resolutions are made of. Every year millions resolve to adopt a better diet, exercise more, become fit, or lose weight but few put into practice the health behaviors they aspire to. For those who successfully begin, the likelihood that they will maintain these habits is low. Healthcare professionals recognize the importance of these, and other, health behaviors but struggle to provide their patients with the tools necessary for successful (...) maintenance of their medical regimens. The thousands of research papers that exist on patient adherence and health behavior change can leave professionals overwhelmed. This book synthesizes the results from more than 50 years of empirical research, resulting in simple, powerful, and practical guidance for health professionals who want to know the most effective strategies for helping their clients to put long-term health-relevant behavior changes into practice. It advocates a straightforward 3-ingredient model: Before a person can change, they must know what change is necessary ; desire the change ; and then have the tools to achieve and maintain the change. This book is designed to be informative and compelling, but its numerous anecdotes and examples render it engaging and entertaining, as well. Written for a practitioners and students of medicine, chiropractic, osteopathy, nursing, health education, physician assistant programs, dentistry, clinical and health psychology, marriage and family counseling, social work, school psychology, and care administrators -- and for lay persons who wish to take an active role in their health, this book brings together major empirically-based findings within the field and provides succinct, evidence-based recommendations and strategies for using these findings to make real changes. (shrink)
Rationale In Belgium, several policies regulating reimbursement of acid suppressant drugs and evidence-based recommendations for clinical practice were issued in a short period of time, creating a unique opportunity to observe their effect on prescribing. Aims and objectives To describe the evolution of prescriptions for acid suppressants and explore the interaction of policies and practice recommendations with prescribing patterns. Method Monthly claims-based data for proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H-2-antihistamines by general practitioners, internists and "astroenterologists were obtained from the Belgian (...) national health insurance database (1997-2005). The evolution of reimbursed defined daily doses and expenses after introduction of reimbursement regulations and dissemination of practice recommendations was explored. Results Recommendations had no impact on prescribing. All changes can be related to concomitant policies. Lifting reimbursement restrictions for cheaper products did not control growth or save costs in the Iona term. Only restricting reimbursement of all PPIs managed to curb the growth. We observed an unintended increase of non-omeprazole PPIs by gastroenterologists. Conclusions Reimbursement policies influence prescribing, but their effect can be unintended. A dialogue between policymakers and guideline developers, and evidence-based policies that are linked to clinical guidelines, could be an effective way to pursue both cost-containment and quality of care. (shrink)
Because few would object to evidence-based medicine’s (EBM) principal task of basing medical decisionmaking on the most judicious and up-to-date evidence, the debate over this prolific movement may seem puzzling. Who, one may ask, could be against evidence (Carr-Hill, 2006)? Yet this question belies the sophistication of the evidence-based movement. This chapter presents the evidence-based approach as a socio-medical phenomenon and seeks to explain and negotiate the points of disagreement between supporters and detractors. This is done by casting EBM as (...) more than the simple application of research findings to clinical care and improved health outcomes, but rather an umbrella term that harnesses a specific set of pedagogical objectives (some rather radical) under a name that makes it difficult to argue against. (shrink)
Bayes’ rule shows how one might rationally change one’s beliefs in the light of evidence. It is the foundation of a statistical method called Bayesianism. In healthcare research, Bayesianism has its advocates but the dominant statistical method is frequentism. There are at least two important philosophical differences between these methods. First, Bayesianism takes a subjectivist view of probability (i.e. that probability scores are statements of subjective belief, not objective fact) whilst frequentism takes an objectivist view. Second, Bayesianism (...) is explicitly inductive (i.e. it shows how we may induce views about the world based on partial data from it) whereas frequentism is at least compatible with non-inductive views of scientific method, particularly the critical realism of Popper. Popper and others detail significant problems with induction. Frequentism’s apparent ability to avoid these, plus its ability to give a seemingly more scientific and objective take on probability, lies behind its philosophical appeal to healthcare researchers. However, there are also significant problems with frequentism, particularly its inability to assign probability scores to single events. Popper thus proposed an alternative objectivist view of probability, called propensity theory, which he allies to a theory of corroboration; but this too has significant problems, in particular, it may not successfully avoid induction. If this is so then Bayesianism might be philosophically the strongest of the statistical approaches. The article sets out a number of its philosophical and methodological attractions. Finally, it outlines a way in which critical realism and Bayesianism might work together. (shrink)
It is generally assumed that allocation problems in a socialized healthcare system result from limited resources and too much demand. Attempts at solutions have therefore centered in increasing efficiency, using evidence-based decision-making and on developing ways of balancing competing demands within the existing resource limitation. This article suggests that some of the difficulties in macro-allocation decision-making may result from the use of conflicting ethical perspectives by decision-makers. It presents evidence from a preliminary Canadian study to this effect.
Evidence-based medicine is seen not only as an important means to improve the quality of medical care, but also as an instrument to control costs. In view of the scarcity of healthcare resources, decisions on the allocation of care will have to be made more explicitly and should be made more transparent.