Physicians’ Daily Life and the Scientific Method

  • Ton J. Cleophas
  • Aeilko H. Zwinderman


Physicians’ daily life largely consists of routine, with little need for discussion. However, there are questions physicians simply do not know the answer of. Some will look for the opinions of their colleagues or the experts in the field. Others will try and find a way out by guessing what might be the best solution. The benefit of the doubt doctrine (Ordronaux 1869) is often used as a justification for unproven treatment decisions, and, if things went wrong, another justification is the expression: clinical medicine is an error-ridden activity (Paget 1990). So far, few physicians have followed a different approach, the scientific method. The scientific method is, in a nutshell: reformulate your question into a hypothesis and try to test this hypothesis against control observations. In clinical settings this approach is not impossible, but rarely applied by physicians, despite their lengthy education in evidence based medicine, which is almost entirely based on the scientific method. This chapter was written to give simple examples of how the scientific method can be implied in a physician’s daily life, and to explain its advantages and limitations. We do hope that this chapter will stimulate physicians to more often apply the scientific method for a better outline of their patients’ best possible treatment options.


Evidence Base Medicine Scientific Method Informed Consent Procedure Control Observation Pharmaceutical Representative 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ton J. Cleophas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aeilko H. Zwinderman
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Applied to Clinical TrialsEuropean Interuniversity College of Pharmaceutical MedicineLyonFrance
  2. 2.Department of MedicineAlbert Schweitzer HospitalDordrechtNetherlands
  3. 3.Department of Biostatistics and EpidemiologyAcademic Medical CenterAmsterdamNetherlands

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