Evidence-based medicine has always required integration of patient values with ‘best’ clinical evidence. It is widely recognized that scientific practices and discoveries, including those of EBM, are value-laden. But to date, the science of EBM has focused primarily on methods for reducing bias in the evidence, while the role of values in the different aspects of the EBM process has been almost completely ignored.
The evidence-based practice and evidence-based medicine movements have promoted standardization through guideline development methodologies based on systematic reviews and meta-analyses of best available research. EBM has challenged clinicians to question their reliance on practical reasoning and clinical judgement. In this paper, we argue that the protagonists of EBM position their mission as reducing uncertainty through the use of standardized methods for knowledge evaluation and use. With this drive towards uniformity, standardization and control comes a suspicion towards intuition, creativity and uncertainty (...) as integral parts of medical practice. We question the appropriateness of attempts to standardize professional practice through a discussion of the importance of uncertainty. Greenhalgh’s taxonomy of uncertainty is used to inform an analysis of the clinical reasoning occurring in a potentially life threatening emergency situation with a young patient. The case analysis is further developed by the use of the Canadian philosopher Bernard Lonergan’s theory about understanding and objective knowing. According to Lonergan it is not by getting rid of or even by reducing uncertainty, but by attending systematically to it and by relating to it in a self-conscious way, that objective knowledge can be obtained. The paper concludes that uncertainty is not a regrettable and unavoidable aspect of decision making but a productive component of clinical reasoning. (shrink)
BackgroundImplementation science research, especially when using participatory and co-design approaches, raises unique challenges for research ethics committees. Such challenges may be poorly addressed by approval and governance mechanisms that were developed for more traditional research approaches such as randomised controlled trials.DiscussionImplementation science commonly involves the partnership of researchers and stakeholders, attempting to understand and encourage uptake of completed or piloted research. A co-creation approach involves collaboration between researchers and end users from the onset, in question framing, research design and delivery, (...) and influencing strategy, with implementation and broader dissemination strategies part of its design from gestation. A defining feature of co-creation is its emergent and adaptive nature, making detailed pre-specification of interventions and outcome measures impossible. This methodology sits oddly with ethics committee protocols that require precise pre-definition of interventions, mode of delivery, outcome measurements, and the role of study participants. But the strict requirements of ethics committees were developed for a purpose – to protect participants from harm and help ensure the rigour and transparency of studies. We propose some guiding principles to help square this circle. First, ethics committees should acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of research approaches, both formally and informally ; without active support, their members may not understand or value participatory designs. Second, ground rules should be established for co-design applications and communicated to committee members and stakeholders. Third, the benefits of power-sharing should be recognised and credit given to measures likely to support this important goal, especially in research with vulnerable communities. Co-design is considered best practice, for example, in research involving indigenous peoples in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. (shrink)
This chapter describes a study undertaken as part of the UCL Evidence programme to explore how policymakers talk about and reason with evidence. Specifically, researchers were interested in the micro-processes of deliberation and meaning-making practices of a group of people charged with prioritising health care in an NHS Primary Care Trust in the UK. The chapter describes how the research study brought together ideas from rhetorical theory and methods of discourse analysis to develop an innovative approach to exploring how evidence (...) is constituted at the micro-level of social interaction and communication. It presents empirical data to illuminate the representation and meaning of evidence within one particular policymaking forum, and to highlight contrasting constructions of the policymaking process. (shrink)