Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Does the parachute study prove that research doesn’t matter? Part II

 
I have finally written Part II. Part III will be next week

In the comments to Does the parachute study prove that research doesn’t matter? Part I is the following from Kevin –
 

The parachute study is meant to address persons who regard only level 1 evidence as evidence. It does not mean to suggest that one should proceed with zero evidence. In fact, we have great evidence that parachutes do indeed work, just not level 1 evidence (that’s why we divide them into various levels–some are better than others, but the lower levels may still be good and adequate). That is why the authors wrote the tongue in cheek article.

 

The authors of the parachute paper were using an extreme position – a straw man – for the purpose of satire. There may be some people who insist on only randomized, placebo controlled, double-blinded, studies of every treatment, but even they should know that a meta-analysis of these would be higher level evidence than what your comment seems to suggest is level 1 evidence.
 

Evidence Pyramid

Evidence Pyramid


Image credit.
 

What does Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) actually require?

If only there were a paper to clearly and concisely state what EBM actually is and what EBM is not. It might be called, Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t.

That paper does exist. The paper is over 20 years old. The full text of the paper is available for free from PubMed Central, so there is no valid reason for anyone examining EBM to be unfamiliar with the paper.
 

Evidence based medicine is not restricted to randomised trials and meta-analyses. It involves tracking down the best external evidence with which to answer our clinical questions.[1]

 

Why the confusion?

Is it because a lot of people just do not understand science?

Science requires humility and a lot of people are just not good at putting aside their assumptions in order to find out if those prejudices are true.

The truth is more important than our egos.

It is much more important to protect patients from harmful treatments, than to protect treatments that do not provide more benefit than harm. We have to learn from our mistakes.
 

Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.[1]

 

What is the objection to EBM?

The use of evidence appears to hurt the feelings of some people.

We have been harming too many patients with treatments that should never have been used outside of well-controlled trials.

We need to stop trying to make treatments look better than they are.

We need to stop coming up with rationalizations for hurting patients.
 
 
 

I have also written about EBM and the parachute paper in these posts –

Does the parachute study prove that research doesn’t matter? Part I – Wed, 22 Aug 2012

Common Sense vs. Evidence – Thu, 28 Mar 2013

The Parachute Study as an Objection to Studying Ventilations in Cardiac Arrest – Mon, 08 Apr 2013

Do we know that these treatments do not help? – Mon, 15 Apr 2013

Why Ignoring Evidence Based Medicine Kills Patients – Fri, 28 Jun 2013

JAMA Opinion Article in Support of Anecdote-Based Medicine – Thu, 28 Nov 2013

Why US EMS will never get to sit at the adult table – The Appeal to Authority – Sun, 04 May 2014

Natural Alternatives to the EpiPen, Because We Believe in Parachutes – Wed, 23 Dec 2015

Footnotes:

[1] Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t.
Sackett DL, Rosenberg WM, Gray JA, Haynes RB, Richardson WS.
BMJ. 1996 Jan 13;312(7023):71-2.
PMID: 8555924 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from PubMed Central.

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