The origins of medical evidence: Communication and experimentation
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- Widder, J. Med Health Care Philos (2004) 7: 99. doi:10.1023/B:MHEP.0000021679.52642.25
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Background: The experimental method to acquire knowledge about efficacy and efficiency of medical procedures is well established in evidence-based medicine. A method to attain evidence about the significance of diseases and interventions from the patients' perspectives taking into account their right to self-determination about their lives and bodies has however not been sufficiently characterized.Design: Identification of a method to acquire evidence about the clinical significance of disease and therapeutic options from the patients' perspectives.Arguments: Communication between patient and physician is analyzed as the method to attain evidence about what is at stake for individual patients in disease and therapy. It is the method that enables physicians to directly take into account patients' disease experiences and their aims regarding treatments. These patients' perspectives in turn determine the clinical significance of diagnoses and therapeutic options, if patient-autonomy is taken seriously.Conclusions: A full account of evidence-based medicine needs to include experimentation and communication between physician and patient as equally important methods to attain evidence necessary to practice patient-oriented medicine. The communicative method is especially important for primary physicians as they direct patients within the medical system to have their medical problems most effectively and efficiently addressed.