The evidence based clinician: part 1, asking answerable questions
It's quite shocking to realise that there is an awful lot of rubbish behind a lot of clinical practice. Many doctors will swear that their choice of management is effective. "But," asks Christopher Ball, "where is the evidence?"
Clinicians suffer from information overload. Hundreds of medical articles and textbooks are published weekly, but most are of poor quality and already out of date. The internet contains opinion intermingled with scientific fact, usually with no clear distinction between the two. Experts cite selectively and may twist facts to suit their viewpoint.
Evidence based medicine offers a way of cutting through the garbage to good quality material, but many clinicians do not have time to learn critical appraisal and statistical analysis in detail. Fortunately numerous resources are now available that have done the hard work already, allowing clinicians to move rapidly from question to answer and improve the quality of care that they provide for their patients.
This series of articles will focus on how to ask answerable questions, where to look, and, finally, how to customise the information to your patient, without spending hours learning complex techniques or reading