What is Evidence-Based Medicine?


junge Zahnärztin© Valua Vitaly - Fotolia.com






Dental Technician

CheckDent content is based on the principles of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM), one of the most thorough and internationally respected approaches to health care and medical research.

The three columns of EBM:

  • The doctor’s competency
  • The patient’s values and wishes
  • The latest findings in clinical research

One of the most common definitions of EBM:

“Evidence-based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence-based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.”

From: Evidence-based Medicine: What It Is and What It Isn't

In other words: EBM stands for the best possible medical care for patients, lifelong learning for doctors and exemplary research methods.

The Goal: Interdisciplinary, Sustainable Research

EBM places great importance on interdisciplinary research, where medical researchers team up with experts in biology, mathematics, statistics and other areas to create studies that fulfill international best-practice standards. Studies should only be published if they can withhold rigorous independent review that checks the sustainability and solidity of the applied research methods. That way, doctors are prevented from undertaking irrelevant, low-grade studies without seeking external advice and having sufficient knowledge of international guidelines.

The Problem: Shoddy Research

Many medical scientists and doctors disregard the basic rules of reputable research, because they are put off by the comparatively complex methods of EBM or because they simply don’t know any better. An ethical approach according to EBM (http://www.cochrane.org/about-us/our-principles) is often rejected because of a lack of money, motivation and time.

As a consequence, most studies do not make the cut to be published in leading medical journals. Instead, they are published by one of the thousands of pseudo-scientific publications with lenient editorial policies.

What few people know: the content of most medical journals could be classified as pseudo-science funded by pharmaceutical companies (http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55679/) or medical associations. Many of them are primarily driven by a desire to advance their own careers and products rather than medical treatments and science.

EBM: Full Throttle for Independent, Systematic Research

The internationally active Cochrane Collaboration is often cited as the guardian of EBM. Since 1993, the organization leads the development of the Cochrane Library, which already includes more than 4,000 systematic reviews of existing studies.

One of the core missions of the Cochrane Collaboration is the improvement of research methods, especially through the use of randomized, controlled studies (http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=39532). These may be more expensive and time-consuming to do, but yield the most reliable results and are considered the gold standard of medical research.

In 2011, the Cochrane Collaboration joined the World Health Organization’s (http://www.who.int/en/) annual World Health Assembly (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/governance/wha/en/index.html):

"The Cochrane Collaboration provides an international benchmark for the independent assessment and assimilation of scientific evidence."

Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director General, Innovation Information Evidence and Research, World Health Organization, January 2011

What can EBM do for you?

Thanks to EBM and the Cochrane Library (http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/view/0/index.html), both patients and doctors can access comprehensive information about the potential risks and benefits of certain treatment methods. CheckDent is always up to date with the latest EBM findings in dental health and includes these in the dental videos and articles it publishes.

EBM in the UK

EBM originated in the United Kingdom and was spearheaded by the Scottish scientist Archie Cochrane (http://www.cochrane.org/about-us/history/archie-cochrane), who set out some of the core principles and concerns of the field in the 1970s. His work laid the groundwork for the creation of the rise of EBM and eventually the Cochrane Collaboration.

In 1992, the world’s first Cochrane Centre opened in Oxford, later to be renamed the UK Cochrane Centre (www.ukcc.cochrane.org). It is now part of the UK’s National Institute for Health Research (http://www.nihr.ac.uk/Pages/default.aspx).

EBM in the United States

1993 saw the launch of the first US-based Cochrane Center in Baltimore, which is now known as the United States Cochrane Center (http://us.cochrane.org/).

EBM in Canada

The first Canadian Cochrane Centre was registered in 1993 and is based at the University of Ottawa (http://www.uottawa.ca/).

EBM in Australia

In February 1994, the Australasian Cochrane Centre (acc.cochrane.org) was launched at Monash University (http://www.monash.edu.au/) in Melbourne.

This post is also available in: German

on No Comments Yet

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.