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Health Care Anal. 2018 Dec;26(4):344-361. doi: 10.1007/s10728-017-0345-7.

Ethics, Evidence Based Sports Medicine, and the Use of Platelet Rich Plasma in the English Premier League.

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College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea, UK.
De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.
University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.
Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK.


The use of platelet rich plasma (PRP) as a novel treatment is discussed in the context of a qualitative research study comprising 38 interviews with sports medicine practitioners and other stakeholders working within the English Premier League during the 2013-16 seasons. Analysis of the data produced several overarching themes: conservatism versus experimentalism in medical attitudes; therapy perspectives divergence; conflicting versions of appropriate evidence; subcultures; community beliefs/practices; and negotiation of medical decision-making. The contested evidence base for the efficacy of PRP is presented in the context of a broader professional shift towards evidence based medicine within sports medicine. Many of the participants while accepting this shift are still committed to casuistic practices where clinical judgment is flexible and does not recognize a context-free hierarchy of evidentiary standards to ethically justifiable practice. We also discuss a tendency in the data collected to consider the use of deceptive, placebo-like, practices among the clinician participants that challenge dominant understandings of informed consent in medical ethics. We conclude that the complex relation between evidence and ethics requires greater critical scrutiny for this emerging specialism within the medical community.


Ethics; Evidence based medicine; Placebo; Professionalism; Sports medicine

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