Six 'biases' against patients and carers in evidence-based medicine
© 2015 Greenhalgh et al. Background: Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is maturing from its early focus on epidemiology to embrace a wider range of disciplines and methodologies. At the heart of EBM is the patient, whose informed choices have long been recognised as paramount. However, good evidence-based care is more than choices. Discussion: We discuss six potential 'biases' in EBM that may inadvertently devalue the patient and carer agenda: limited patient input to research design, low status given to experience in the hierarchy of evidence, a tendency to conflate patient-centred consulting with use of decision tools; insufficient attention to power imbalances that suppress the patient's voice, over-emphasis on the clinical consultation, and focus on people who seek and obtain care (rather than the hidden denominator of those that do not seek or cannot access care). Summary: To reduce these 'biases', EBM should embrace patient involvement in research, make more systematic use of individual ('personally significant') evidence, take a more interdisciplinary and humanistic view of consultations, address unequal power dynamics in healthcare encounters, support patient communities, and address the inverse care law.