Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice

An epistemological problem for integration in EBM

Early View

Abstract Evidence‐based medicine (EBM) calls for medical practitioners to “integrate” our best available evidence into clinical practice. A significant amount of the literature on EBM takes this integration to be unproblematic, focusing on questions like how to interpret evidence and engage with patient values, rather than critically looking at how these features of EBM can be implemented together. Other authors have also commented on this gap in the literature, for example, identifying the lack of clarity about how patient preferences and evidence from trials is supposed to be integrated in practice. In this paper, I look at this issue from an epistemological perspective, (looking at how different types of knowledge in EBM can be used to make sounds judgements). In particular, I introduce an epistemological issue for this integration problem, which I call the epistemic integration problem. This is essentially the problem of how we can use information that is both general (eg, about a population sample) and descriptive (eg, about what expected outcomes are) to reach clinical judgements that are individualized (applying to a particular patient) and normative (about what is best for their health).

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