In this gloomy northern hemispheric spring, it seems there is something interesting and encouraging going on in public health.
Finally, perhaps the status quo in what is acceptable to inform clinical medicine is now changing, that it is understood that the public has the right to expect better evidence than what is now available and a growing group of health professionals, who span the spectrum from front-line GPs (including Margaret McCartney, via whom the image at the beginning of this blog comes) to systematic reviewers are rising to this challenge. In this they are supported by editors and, perhaps even most encouragingly of all, increasingly politicians and policy makers.
A couple of recent events give a real flavour of these changes. EvidenceLive, at the end of March, a conference run by the BMJ and the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, Oxford (CEBM) was one of the most invigorating conferences I have been to for quite some time. Not only was there a real sense of a collective vision, evidenced by tremendous engagement from among the participants (including virtually on twitter #evidencelive) – so it was almost irrelevant who was a speaker and who was the audience – but also a sense that many strands were coming together and that the argument for the need for evidence informing healthcare was over (something that might seem blindingly obvious to an outsider), it was more about how to make it happen.
Of course in one important area the argument is not over