Resisting evidence: the study of evidence-based medicine as a contemporary social movement
Health, 7, (3), . (doi:10.1177/1363459303007003002).
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Evidence-based medicine (EBM) emerged relatively recently
to describe the explicit process of applying research evidence to medical
practice. The movement was high profile, yet not overly successful: many
clinicians do not use up-to-date evidence in their everyday work. This article
shows how a social movement perspective can be used to analyse the emergence
of EBM and shed light on power struggles between segments of the
medical profession. It draws on Blumer’s (1951) essay on social movements
to demonstrate the continued salience of this approach. The article also
presents empirical data from a qualitative study of English and American
surgeons to illustrate how EBM provides a focus for segmental conflict within
medical practice between ‘art’ and ‘science’, ‘practice’ and ‘evidence’.
Together these data and the social movements perspective provide insight
into the dynamics of this struggle and help to explain why clinicians continue
to resist EBM.
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