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Jeremy Howick

BA, MSc, PhD

Senior Researcher & Director, Oxford Empathy Programme

  • BMA Dawkins and Strutt Fellow
  • Senior Research Associate, Department of Philosophy (Oxford)
  • Fellow, Kellogg College
  • Module Leader (History, Philosophy of EBHC)

Interdisciplinary context effect researcher


Dr. Howick's research draws on his interdisciplinary training as a philosopher of science and clinical epidemiologist. He has two related areas of interest:

  • Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM): EBM 'hierarchies' of evidence, clinical epidemiology, and how point of care tests might improve practice.
  • Philosophy of medicine: the epistemological foundations of Evidence-Based Medicine, the ethics of placebos in trials and practice.

Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM)

His work in EBM cumulated in a book ('The Philosophy of Evidence-Based Medicine') and a tool for gauging Levels of Evidence. Both are used by researchers and guideline developers in the UK and internationally. He is currently evaluating different methods for measuring the strength of evidence and is working on a project to further develop the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine 'Levels of Evidence' as well as the 2nd edition of his book.

Placebo Research

Clinical and health service researchers have spent decades investigating ways to effectively utilize ‘active’ treatments safely, ethically and intelligently. Dr. Howick's research on placebos focuses on methods to investigate ways to rationalize placebo use. He draws on his philosophical and epidemiological expertise to find better ways to maximize benefits and minimize harms of placebos.

Philosophy of medicine and bioethics

Dr. Howick's philosophical research focuses on the justification for EBM 'hierarchies', the evidential role of mechanisms and expertise, and the ethics of placebos in routine practice and clinical trials.

Point of Care Testing

His work on point of care testing (POCTs) are available is important because currently we do not know which tests general practitioners might find beneficial. He is conducting a rapid appraisal of needs for these tests that will be published in 2013.


Dr. Howick offers advice on how to determine and (if possible) improve the degree of confidence in claims that medical interventions will benefit patients (the 'Level of Evidence').

Conflicts of interest and payments

Dr. Howick has received expenses and payments from Johns Hopkins, the American Society for Neurophysiological Monitoring, and Isis consulting as a consultant about evidence. He has received funding from the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council of the UK, the Economics and Social Science Research Council of the UK, and he is currently a National Institute for Health Research non-clinical research fellow. He has received payment from the Canadian Medical Association Journal for writing a book review, and receives royalties from the publication of his book published by Blackwell/Wiley.

Key publications

Recent publications

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