Unfortunately, the phrase evidence based has become a marketing phrase that is misused and abused.

Dr Horton, Editor in Chief of the medical journal, Lancet, claims ” “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.” http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736%2815%2960696-1.pdf

And then we have the Editor in Chief of the NEMJ (New England Medical Journal): ““It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2964337/

One of the problems is that negative research is not published. For instance, Greenhalgh et al study showed that of 38 positive result studies, 37 were published; but of the 36 negative result studies, only 14 were published. His is only one of a hugely increasing number of articles regarding the issue but makes the point. Unfortunately, it is only one of the many problems with current research. One good article, and again, there are many, that address a number of issues that distort “evidence based” research is: Editors, Publishers, Impact Factors, and Reprint Income found at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2964337/

The following was written in an article titled: Common Misconceptions,

“Evidence means quantitative ‘scientific’ evidence.”

Absolutely not.  Evidence in general just means information – like the use of ‘evidence’ in legal settings – anything might count as evidence if it’s judged to be valid, reliable and relevant.

“Evidence-based practice means practitioners cannot use their professional expertise.

No.  Expertise is another form of knowledge which can be as valid or relevant as any other.

“Evidence can prove things.”

Not really.  Evidence provides probabilities or indications of likelihood based on (what is always) limited information.

“Evidence tells you the truth about things.”

No.  Truth is a whole different thing.

“New exciting single ‘breakthrough’ studies provide the best evidence.”

Almost never.  It’s about what the body of many individual pieces of research (and other forms of evidence) is suggesting.


Psychology, like medicine, also abuses the term “evidence based”. For instance, psychology likes to claim that CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is evidence based: “In fact, studies show that when CBT is effective, it is at least in part because the more skilled practitioners depart from the manuals and use methods that are fundamentally psychodynamic.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychologically-minded/201310/where-is-the-evidence-evidence-based-therapies

I really liked a statement made in this article: “They uncover distressing flaws, show that many commonly accepted psychological principles are based on myths, argue that psychotherapy is a business and a kind of prostitution rather than an effective evidence-based medical treatment, and question whether psychotherapy should even exist, since in most cases it offers no advantage over talking to a friend about one’s problems, and in some cases can cause harm.” https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/psychology-and-psychotherapy-how-much-is-evidence-based/

So who do you listen to? Whose advice do you follow? It is difficult in today’s world, to know what to believe.

Make sure you do your own research. Find a health practitioner that does a lot of research. Learn how to listen to your body.

Make an appointment with Dr Holly: 604 764 5203 OR drholly@choicesunlimited.ca

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Here’s to your health!

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