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Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2011;47(1):26-30. doi: 10.4415/ANN_11_01_07.

Integrating clinical research into clinical decision making.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.


Evidence-based medicine has placed a general priority on knowledge gained from clinical research for clinical decision making. However, knowledge derived from empiric, population-based research, while valued for its ability to limit bias, is not directly applicable to the care of individual patients. The gap between clinical research and individual patient care centers on the fact that empiric research is not generally designed to answer questions of direct relevance to individual patients. Clinicians must utilize other forms of medical knowledge, including pathophysiologic rationale and clinical experience, in order to arrive at the best medical decision for a particular patient. In addition, clinicians must also elucidate and account for the goals and values of individual patients as well as barriers and facilitators of care inherent in the system in which they practice. Evidence-based guidelines and protocols, then, can never be prescriptive. Clinicians must continue to rely on clinical judgment, negotiating potentially conflicting warrants for action, in an effort to arrive at the best decision for a particular patient.

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