Answering Physicians’ Clinical Questions: Obstacles and Potential Solutions. Another paper on Q&A from the Ely, Osheroff (et al) stable.

I’m still puzzling over the concept of an answer….

It would appear from the above paper that an answer is judged by the doctors. I suppose the issue being, does it help remove their uncertainty. However, the removal of uncertainty has little relevance to a ‘correct’ answer.

So a doctor might be uncertain which drug to give A or B to a patient with condition X. The doctor finds the first paper on Medline which suggests drug A is better. So they decide to use drug A. However, 5 papers down is a systematic review that shows B is superior to A. So the doctors uncertainty has been plugged by seeing a paper supporting drug A. However, the ‘correct’ response (from an EBM perspective) would be to use drug B. Ironically, for the patient in front of the doctor drug A might actually work better – but that’s another story!