Evidence-based medicine is the deliberate and explicit use of the current best evidence in combination with clinical knowledge and experience when making decisions on patient care, rather than basing clinical decisions solely on tradition or theoretical reasoning. Coined by a group from McMaster University in the late 1980s, the aim of ‘Evidence-based medicine’ aims to make clinical practice more grounded in up-to-date science, and therefore more safe, consistent, and cost-effective. It recognised the inability of traditional authorities (especially text books) to keep pace with rapid development of evidence, the emerging availability of information technology to provide access to evidence, and the need for strong critical appraisal skills to evaluate and interpret the results of different types in real time. A strong emphasis was placed on the importance of RCTs as sources of unbiased evidence, and metrics such as ‘numbers needed to treat’ to summarise and communicate evidence in clinical settings. Writing in the BMJ in 1996, Sackett et al. defined evidence-based medicine as “requir[ing] a bottom up approach that integrates the best external evidence with individual clinical expertise and patients’ choice”.

How to cite: Evidence-Based Medicine [online]. (2016). York; York Health Economics Consortium; 2016. https://www.yhec.co.uk/glossary/evidence-based-medicine/

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