Coming to Grips with Evidence-Based Medicine

Steven Prior, MD

I started All Things Palliative (ATP) in December 2012 as a way to cope with the vast amount of medical evidence for which I, as a front-line palliative care physician, felt responsible. Of the many things I’ve learned over the past 10 months, the most eye-opening has been just how enormous this body of medical evidence really is.

I operate within a rather small subset of healthcare – Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM). By its nature, HPM overlaps with all other medical specialties, from pediatrics to geriatrics, interventional radiology to general surgery. HPM is also interdisciplinary – the very definition of HPM outlines its incorporation of spiritual, psychological, social and physical care. So as a clinician educator at a major U.S. academic medical center, I often struggled to keep abreast of the medical literature as it pertained to HPM. Relevant studies would be published in the HPM journals, of course, but also in those of nursing, chaplaincy, mental health, ethics and social work, not to mention frequent publications among the surgical and medical subspecialty journals.

ATP has been, primarily, an attempt to pull these scattered bits of data together into one place. It has seemed a sensible way for me to start coming to terms with evidence-based medicine’s “Big Data” challenge in the field of HPM.

ATP has accumulated essentially all English-language HPM medical news and research released since the site’s inception. Every day I review titles of over a thousand articles from medical journals, medical news sites, professional organizations, advocacy groups, blogs and lay press outlets. From this 1,000+ daily set, I cull about sixty relevant articles. Roughly two-thirds is original research; one-third is news of various sorts.

Continued at All Things Palliative Blog

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