Evidence Based

I guess it's safe to say I'm a diehard evidence enthusiast. It's essential to get as close to the truth as you can, especially through the tangled mix of commercial and power biases that so plague health information. But if we all paid more attention to the potential adverse effects of evidence based medicine (EBM) too, maybe there would be even fewer mistakes.

My first evidence based mistake came early in my involvement with EBM. When two of the member organisations of the consumer coalition I was involved with were set against each other because of a controversy, we did the evidence based thing. We turned to the systematic review to decide what stand we should take.

The subject? Bromocriptine for lactation suppression. One of our member groups demanded that we support a call for a ban of the drug for this indication, while another objected just as vehemently to removal of access. The systematic review concluded that the drug was effective, with no concerning adverse effects. We didn't support the call for a ban, and we were wrong. The drug, it turned out, was causing serious harm, including deaths.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

Paying attention what the evidence shows as the devil is in the detail and fooling ourselves is the simplest task that can ever confront researchers.

3 Replies

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  • Making up the evidence if none's found keeps a retraction watch web site busy.

  • You'll be telling me politicians use evidence next I suppose.

  • Open access to evidence meassociation.org.uk/2017/0... so that quality can be assessed by the group giving informed consent for treatment based on evidence strength.

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