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GPs cautioned on using evidence-based medicine in isolation

2 September 2011

GPs cautioned on using evidence-based medicine in isolation

GPs received a cautionary message today of the importance of not relying on evidence-based medicine in isolation.

In two keynote addresses at the 2011 Conference for General Practice being held in Auckland, doctors were cautioned that evidence-based medicine used on its own has its failings.

Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, Director of the Healthcare Innovation and Policy Unit at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry gave a keynote address by video link and urged GPs to more strongly consider the ‘patient narrative’ in making their diagnosis and prescribing decisions.

She said too often the patient experience was downgraded to anecdotal, and evidence-based medicine put above it in determining the best course of treatment. Diagnosis and treatment decisions needed to be made using both.

Professor David Healy, a Professor of Psychiatry at Cardiff University, also urged doctors not to rely on evidence-based medicine in isolation.

He said a lot of the research around pharmaceuticals is not from independent sources, and often only those drug trials with positive outcomes are presented.

Both said that while evidence-based medicine certainly had an important place in doctor decision-making, it should not be the only tool used. They urged that practical wisdom, reflective practice, the patient experience and independent research should all be in the mix.

The 2011 Conference for General Practice is a joint conference being held in Auckland over the next three days. It has been organised by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and General Practice New Zealand.

ENDS

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