Guest author: Shamsha Damani (@shamsha) ;
Submission for the April Medlib’s Round
Let’s face it: Facebook is pretty popular these days. Everyone and their grandmother (literally!) is on Facebook. In fact, if you don’t have a Facebook account, you are considered a social pariah. As I pondered over my next guest blog post on Jacqueline’s blog (thanks Jacqueline!), I started thinking that evidence based medicine (EBM) has a lot in common with Facebook. EBM, like Facebook, is very popular, everyone “claims” to be using it, and god help you if you shun it.
However, in my day-to-day work as a Clinical Librarian, I find that many healthcare providers really don’t know how to practice EBM. EBM surely gets a lot of press but many healthcare providers fail to explore it in depth. This can be due to lack of time, lack of resources, or not really knowing where to start. And you know what, it is okay to feel overwhelmed because EBM can be overwhelming. But looking at the big picture helps. Consider Facebook for a moment again: many people get overwhelmed by the applications, the groups, the wall, and forget the big picture: Facebook is about connecting with your friends and family. Similarly, think about the big picture of EBM: it is about using good evidence to treat your patient (defining good evidence however, can be a blog post of its own!).
Keep the basic principles of EBM in mind: Ask a focused question, find the evidence, critique the studies found, and then make a decision. Some people get overwhelmed by the evidence and allow it to usurp their own clinical judgment. Yes, EBM is about evidence, but it is also about using that evidence in conjunction with your clinical judgment. Don’t let the evidence hijack your clinical expertise. And lastly, don’t forget your patient. You can have the best evidence in hand with sound clinical judgment; but if your patient’s wishes differ from your evidence, then you have to respect them and let go of the evidence.
Many people think that EBM, like Facebook, is a fad and will be replaced by something else. They may be right. However, until something better comes along, I think that healthcare professionals should get back to the basics of EBM, see the big picture, and put in the extra time it takes to practice EBM correctly. An appointment with your medical librarian wouldn’t hurt either! Evidence keeps changing (kind of like Facebook!) and it takes hard work to keep up; but the results are totally worth it!