In January this year I was a participant at a small gathering of EBMers in Oxford, exploring the notion of RealEBM.  It was jointly organised by Trish Greenhalgh and the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine.  The participant list was Trisha Greenhalgh, Jeremy Howick, Neal Maskrey, Druin Burch, Martin Burton, Hasok Chang, Paul Glasziou, Iona Heath, Carl Heneghan, Michael P Kelly, Richard Lehman, Huw Llewelyn, Margaret McCartney, Ruairidh Milne, Des Spence and myself.  Someone – certainly not me – called it the Evidence Based Medicine Renaissance Group.

A paper has been prepared and was recently published in the BMJ Evidence based medicine: a movement in crisis?

The preamble is:

Trisha Greenhalgh and colleagues argue that, although evidence based medicine has had many benefits, it has also had some negative unintended consequences.They offer a preliminary agenda for the movement’s renaissance, refocusing on providing useable evidence that can be combined with context and professional expertise so that individual patients get optimal treatment.

And the conclusion:

Much progress has been made and lives have been saved through the systematic collation, synthesis, and application of high quality empirical evidence. However, evidence based medicine has not resolved the problems it set out to address (especially evidence biases and the hidden hand of vested interests), which have become subtler and harder to detect. Furthermore, contemporary healthcare’s complex economic, political, technological and commercial context has tended to steer the evidence based agenda towards populations, statistics, risk, and spurious certainty. Despite lip service to shared decision making, patients can be left confused and even tyrannised when their clinical management is inappropriately driven by algorithmic protocols, top-down directives and population targets.

Such problems have led some to argue for the rejection of evidence based medicine as a failed model. Instead we argue for a return to the movement’s founding principles—to individualise evidence and share decisions through meaningful conversations in the context of a humanistic and professional clinician-patient relationship (box 2). To deliver this agenda, evidence based medicine’s many stakeholders—patients, clinicians, educators, producers and publishers of evidence, policy makers, research funders, and researchers from a range of academic disciplines—must work together. Many of the ideas in this paper are not new, and a number of cross sector campaigns with similar goals have already begun (box 3). We hope that our call for a campaign for real evidence based medicine will open up debate and invite readers to contribute (for example, by posting rapid responses on bmj.com).
I hope you’re interested and if you need an electronic copy, just drop me a line.

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