Lost in Translation: Bibliotherapy and Evidence-based Medicine
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Evidence-based medicine’s (EBM) quantitative methodologies reflect medical science’s long-standing mistrust of the imprecision and subjectivity of ordinary descriptive language. However, EBM’s attempts to replace subjectivity with precise empirical methods are problematic when clinicians must negotiate between scientific medicine and patients’ experience. This problem is evident in the case of bibliotherapy (patient reading as treatment modality), a practice widespread despite its reliance on anecdotal evidence. While EBM purports to replace such flawed practice with reliable evidence-based methods, this essay argues that its aversion to subjective language prevents EBM from effectively evaluating bibliotherapy or making it amenable to clinical and research governance.