Random Reflections: Cochrane and the Origins of Hierarchies

In 1972, Archie Cochrane published Effectiveness and Efficiency: Random Reflections on Health Services. In a little under 86 pages, Cochrane offers a wide-ranged but succinct delivery of his experience and his philosophy of evidence in clinical practice. It’s a fascinating gallop through the concerns of one of the most influential figures …

Crisis Thresholds: network demarcation and the Kuhnian turning point

In at least some of his work (e.g. 1962), Kuhn refers to a ‘crisis’ within the scientific community, which occurs when the build-up of anomalies becomes so substantial that most of the community begin to search for an alternative to the dominant paradigm. The crisis precipitates a period of revolutionary …

A Ghost of Progress – How Hierarchies Become Fixtures

I have written extensively on hierarchies of evidence in evidence-based medicine. The origin story of hierarchies of evidence is a little contentious. Several sources in EBM cite Campbell and Stanley’s 1963 classic “Experimental and Quasi-experimental Designs for Research” as containing the first hierarchy, or at least the germ of the …

The Dismal Disease: Temozolomide and the Interaction of Evidence

“I think the challenge is really that we still, not only in glioblastoma, but in oncology at large, treat the majority of patients with a one-size-fits-all approach.” — Roger Stupp    Blockbuster drugs are rare. To be a blockbuster, a drug must shift over $1bn worth in one year. There …

Machine Evidence: Trial by AI

Take a look at the following snippets from descriptions of clinical trials, thinking about how you’d rate the quality and strength of the evidence that comes from each: 1: We conducted a clinical trial in which erythropoietin (EPO) administration was administered daily to patients with severe acne resulting in clinically significant …

Stop Fighting, You’re Making Me SAD

Does medical science have to be adversarial to make progress? Does progress in patient care consist of weeding out treatments which are ineffective and replacing existing therapies with new and better alternatives? Subacromial Decompression (SAD) surgery is one of the most commonplace shoulder surgeries, performed regularly as a treatment for …