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The supposed superiority of randomized over non-randomized studies is used to justify claims about therapeutic effectiveness of medical interventions and also inclusion criteria for many systematic reviews. However, the view that randomized trials provide better evidence has been challenged by philosophers of science. In addition, empirical evidence for average differences between randomized trials and observational studies (which we would expect if one method were superior) have proven difficult to find. In this paper we review the controversy surrounding the relative merits of randomized trials and observational studies.

Core reading: Howick and Mebius [forthcoming]

Part of the Topics in the Philosophy of Medicine seminar series:

We will explore topics that are both philosophically interesting, and also relevant to medical research or practice, and the core readings draw on the philosophical as well as the medical literature. We begin with some background linking general epistemological concepts with current topics in philosophy of medicine. We then move on to examine the specific problems of the epistemological role of randomization, causal inference in clinical trials, the role of mechanisms as evidence, the epistemological (and ethical) role of placebo controls, and whether Evidence-Based Medicine as a movement is justified.

No booking required.

For enquires contact Jeremy Howick.

Public talks in Evidence-Based Health Care

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