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J Eval Clin Pract. 2006 Feb;12(1):49-62.

Exploring the continuum: medical information to effective clinical practice. Paper I: the translation of knowledge into clinical practice.

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School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada.


This paper investigates the translation of medical information into clinical practice and the role of thoughtful dissent by exploring the influence of sociological factors on change, the impact of evidence-based medicine (EBM), and the role of industry. Changing practice related to hormone therapy for menopausal and post-menopausal women provides context for this discussion. Medical change involves diffusion of ideas to potential users and ongoing reconciliation of new information with old ideas; this process is influenced by sociological factors including values and experiences, interpersonal relationships and local context. While EBM has alerted doctors to the importance of high quality research and theoretically provides a tool for translating research into practice, there are important problems with its application: (1) it has resulted in a reductionist approach to research and illness; (2) there is a considerable gap between research findings and the complex environment of clinical practice; and (3) EBM has been appropriated by experts, thus corporately developed 'standard-of-care' documents have become instruments of external regulation, and EBM has ceased to be a tool in the hand of individual clinicians. In addition, industry impacts the translation of knowledge by significantly influencing academia, researchers, medical publications, consensus conferences, and practising doctors. While questioning doctrinaire practices or directives is a daunting prospect for individual clinicians, the translation of knowledge into practice and evolution of medical thought is dependent on the progressive role of thoughtful dissent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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