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Concept: Medical literature


Evidence-based medicine (EBM) has always required integration of patient values with ‘best’ clinical evidence. It is widely recognized that scientific practices and discoveries, including those of EBM, are value-laden. But to date, the science of EBM has focused primarily on methods for reducing bias in the evidence, while the role of values in the different aspects of the EBM process has been almost completely ignored.

Concepts: Scientific method, The Canon of Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Avicenna, Alternative medicine, Medical literature


Abandoning ineffective medical practices and mitigating the risks of untested practices are important for improving patient health and containing healthcare costs. Historically, this process has relied on the evidence base, societal values, cultural tensions, and political sway, but not necessarily in that order. We propose a conceptual framework to guide and prioritize this process, shifting emphasis toward the principles of evidence-based medicine, acknowledging that evidence may still be misinterpreted or distorted by recalcitrant proponents of entrenched practices and other biases.

Concepts: Medicine, The Canon of Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Avicenna, Alternative medicine, Medical literature


Randomised trials can provide excellent evidence of treatment benefit in medicine. Over the last 50 years, they have been cemented in the regulatory requirements for the approval of new treatments. Randomised trials make up a large and seemingly high-quality proportion of the medical evidence-base. However, it has also been acknowledged that a distorted evidence-base places a severe limitation on the practice of evidence-based medicine (EBM). We describe four important ways in which the evidence from randomised trials is limited or partial: the problem of applying results, the problem of bias in the conduct of randomised trials, the problem of conducting the wrong trials and the problem of conducting the right trials the wrong way. These problems are not intrinsic to the method of randomised trials or the EBM philosophy of evidence; nevertheless, they are genuine problems that undermine the evidence that randomised trials provide for decision-making and therefore undermine EBM in practice. Finally, we discuss the social dimensions of these problems and how they highlight the indispensable role of judgement when generating and using evidence for medicine. This is the paradox of randomised trial evidence: the trials open up expert judgment to scrutiny, but this scrutiny in turn requires further expertise.

Concepts: The Canon of Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Randomized controlled trial, Avicenna, Alternative medicine, Publication bias, Medical literature


The solitary pulmonary nodule (SPN) is a common medical problem for which management can be quite complex. Imaging remains at the center of management of SPNs, and computed tomography is the primary modality by which SPNs are characterized and followed up for stability. This manuscript summarizes the American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria for radiographically detected solitary pulmonary nodules and briefly reviews the various imaging techniques available. The American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria are evidence-based guidelines for specific clinical conditions that are reviewed every 2 years by a multidisciplinary expert panel. The guideline development and review include an extensive analysis of current medical literature from peer reviewed journals and the application of a well-established consensus methodology (modified Delphi) to rate the appropriateness of imaging and treatment procedures by the panel. In those instances in which evidence is lacking or not definitive, expert opinion may be used to recommend imaging or treatment.

Concepts: The Canon of Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Medical imaging, Radiology, Solitary pulmonary nodule, Peer review, Review, Medical literature


Objective. The evidence base for or against physiotherapy interventions in adults with asthma remains ambiguous, and there are discrepancies between different clinical practice guidelines. We evaluated the level of agreement between the recommendations about physiotherapy for adults with asthma in two major clinical practice guidelines: the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA 2011) and the British Thoracic Society and the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care (BTS/ACPRC 2009). Methods. We used the AGREE II instrument to assess the methodological rigour of the guideline development, the AMSTAR tool and the PEDro scale to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews and clinical trials included in the analysed documents. Additionally, we compared the reference lists of the analysed sections to establish the overlap in included primary and secondary studies. Results. We observed no agreement between the two guidelines in the choice of source research articles. Only 2 studies out of 18 used in BTS guidelines were used in the GINA. The reason why GINA developers did not use the body of evidence included in BTS is not clear. Three independent investigators indicated higher scores in all domains of the AGREE II in the BTS/ACPRC document in comparison with the GINA guidelines. Conclusions. The significant differences in the content and development processes of the examined sections of the two guidelines suggest the need for more frequent and careful updating or directing the readers of the GINA to the BTS/ ACPRC, a guideline addressing specifically and more comprehensively physiotherapy interventions in asthma.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Clinical trial, The Canon of Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Avicenna, Good clinical practice, Medical literature


The consistency of treatment recommendations of evidence-based medical textbooks with more recently published evidence has not been investigated to date. Inconsistencies could affect the quality of medical care.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Systematic review, Avicenna, Alternative medicine, Medical literature


Hemodynamic instability frequently occurs in critically ill patients. Pathophysiological rationale suggests that hemodynamic monitoring (HM) may identify the presence and causes of hemodynamic instability and therefore may allow targeting therapeutic approaches. However, there is a discrepancy between this pathophysiological rationale to use HM and a paucity of formal evidence (as defined by the strict criteria of evidence-based medicine (EBM)) for its use. In this editorial, we discuss that this paucity of formal evidence that HM can improve patient outcome may be explained by both the shortcomings of the EBM methodology in the field of intensive care medicine and the shortcomings of HM itself.

Concepts: Patient, The Canon of Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Avicenna, Illness, Alternative medicine, Medical literature


Healthcare personnel (HCP) attire is an aspect of the medical profession steeped in culture and tradition. The role of attire in cross-transmission remains poorly established, and until more definitive information exists priority should be placed on evidence-based measures to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). This article aims to provide general guidance to the medical community regarding HCP attire outside the operating room. In addition to the initial guidance statement, the article has 3 major components: (1) a review and interpretation of the medical literature regarding (a) perceptions of HCP attire (from both HCP and patients) and (b) evidence for contamination of attire and its potential contribution to cross-transmission; (2) a review of hospital policies related to HCP attire, as submitted by members of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Guidelines Committee; and (3) a survey of SHEA and SHEA Research Network members that assessed both institutional HCP attire policies and perceptions of HCP attire in the cross-transmission of pathogens. Recommendations for HCP attire should attempt to balance professional appearance, comfort, and practicality with the potential role of apparel in the cross-transmission of pathogens. Although the optimal choice of HCP attire for inpatient care remains undefined, we provide recommendations on the use of white coats, neckties, footwear, the bare-below-the-elbows strategy, and laundering. Institutions considering these optional measures should introduce them with a well-organized communication and education effort directed at both HCP and patients. Appropriately designed studies are needed to better define the relationship between HCP attire and HAIs.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Health, Evidence-based medicine, Surgery, Physician, Illness, Medical literature


Since its launch in 2001, Wikipedia has become the most popular general reference site on the Internet and a popular source of health care information. To evaluate the accuracy of this resource, the authors compared Wikipedia articles on the most costly medical conditions with standard, evidence-based, peer-reviewed sources.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Health, Java, Website, Source code, Health science, Medical literature


In this article we signpost readers to 10 papers we consider essential reading for anyone starting out on an evidence-based medicine journey. We have considered papers consisting a mix of old and new, seminal and cutting-edge that offer insight into what evidence-based medicine is, where it came from, why it matters and what it has achieved. This is balanced against some of the common criticisms of evidence-based medicine and efforts to tackle them. We have also highlighted papers acknowledging the importance of teaching and learning of the principles of evidence-based medicine and how health professionals can better use evidence in clinical decisions with patients.

Concepts: The Canon of Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Avicenna, Alternative medicine, Medical literature