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Evaluating Evidence of Mechanisms in Medicine

Principles and Procedures

  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2018

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  • The only book to develop explicit procedures for evaluating evidence of mechanisms
  • Contains a philosophical justification of these procedures
  • Extends and improves the tools available to Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM)

Part of the book series: SpringerBriefs in Philosophy (BRIEFSPHILOSOPH)

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Table of contents (10 chapters)

  1. Why Consider Mechanisms?

  2. Tools for Working with Mechanisms

  3. Core Principles

  4. Particular Applications


About this book

This book is open access under a CC BY license. 

This book is the first to develop explicit methods for evaluating evidence of mechanisms in the field of medicine. It explains why it can be important to make this evidence explicit, and describes how to take such evidence into account in the evidence appraisal process. In addition, it develops procedures for seeking evidence of mechanisms, for evaluating evidence of mechanisms, and for combining this evaluation with evidence of association in order to yield an overall assessment of effectiveness. 

Evidence-based medicine seeks to achieve improved health outcomes by making evidence explicit and by developing explicit methods for evaluating it. To date, evidence-based medicine has largely focused on evidence of association produced by clinical studies. As such, it has tended to overlook evidence of pathophysiological mechanisms and evidence of the mechanisms of action of interventions. 

The bookoffers a useful guide for all those whose work involves evaluating evidence in the health sciences, including those who need to determine the effectiveness of health interventions and those who need to ascertain the effects of environmental exposures.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Philosophy, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

    Veli-Pekka Parkkinen

  • Centre for Reasoning, University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom

    Christian Wallmann, Michael Wilde, Jon Williamson

  • Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London, London, United Kingdom

    Brendan Clarke, Phyllis Illari

  • Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

    Michael P Kelly

  • Cancer Research UK, London, United Kingdom

    Charles Norell

  • Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Federica Russo

  • Centre for Evidence-Based Policy, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, USA

    Beth Shaw

About the authors

The authors of this book are members of EBM+ (, a network of researchers investigating the role of evidence of mechanisms in the health sciences. During the writing of this book, Parkkinen, Wallmann, Wilde and Williamson were based at the Centre for Reasoning, University of Kent; Clarke, Illari and Norell at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL; Kelly at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge; Russo at the Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam; and Shaw at the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, UK. This research way supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Evaluating Evidence of Mechanisms in Medicine

  • Book Subtitle: Principles and Procedures

  • Authors: Veli-Pekka Parkkinen, Christian Wallmann, Michael Wilde, Brendan Clarke, Phyllis Illari, Michael P Kelly, Charles Norell, Federica Russo, Beth Shaw, Jon Williamson

  • Series Title: SpringerBriefs in Philosophy

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Religion and Philosophy, Philosophy and Religion (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-319-94609-2Published: 24 July 2018

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-319-94610-8Published: 13 July 2018

  • Series ISSN: 2211-4548

  • Series E-ISSN: 2211-4556

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XVIII, 125

  • Number of Illustrations: 14 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Philosophy of Medicine, Epistemology

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