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Transcult Psychiatry. 2009 Mar;46(1):16-37. doi: 10.1177/1363461509102285.

Trussed in evidence? Ambiguities at the interface between clinical evidence and clinical practice.

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Cardiff University, Department of Psychological Medicine, Hergest Unit, Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, Wales, UK.


This article considers the dominance that randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of psychotropic agents currently have in relation to the practice of psychiatry in mental health and primary care settings. In contemporary psychiatry, data of marginal significance based on rating scale measures are privileged as evidence that treatments are effective, while judgments of drug effects based on clinical practice are downgraded. The dominance of RCTs has also led to an increasing promotion of rating scales in clinical practice, described here as ;rating scale mongering.' The logical consequence of current interpretations of RCT data is that clinicians should adhere to guidelines which are based on a systematic assembly of such data, but the selective publication of trial data and ghostwriting of publications, lays the basis for guideline capture, and a corresponding capture of evidence-based clinical practice by pharmaceutical companies.

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