Evidence Based Medicine Matters: Examples of where EBM has benefitted patients

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  • Format Texts
  • Language/s English
  • Target Audience Further education, Self-directed learning
  • EBM Stage 0 - Why EBM?
  • Duration 5-15 mins
  • Difficulty Introductory

Key Concepts addressed


Evidence based medicine is the key to the success of modern healthcare. This booklet, by Sense About Science and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges contains case studies of 15 of the game changers in evidence based medicine.

Not only does it provide some excellent examples to help explain why EBM matters, but also it shows the unanimity across the health professions about the benefits of integrating evidence from systematic research into practice.

Download the booklet as a PDF

The following Colleges took part:

  • Royal College of General Practitioners:  a 2004 randomized trial showed that steroid treatment works for Bell’s Palsy.
  • Royal College of Pathologists:  a 2010 trial showed that a simple, non-invasive test reduced the need for invasive colonoscopies for suspected bowel cancer.
  • Royal College of Anaesthetists: 2007 review found that a Doppler probe reduced complications amongst patients undergoing surgery.
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health: Although a 1972 controlled trial had shown steroids improve survival for pre-term infants, it took a 1992 systematic review and guideline to change practice.
  • College of Emergency Medicine:  The College systematically identified important uncertainties in practice concerning the care of people having severe allergic reactions.  They reviewed the evidence and produced clinical practice guidelines in 2009.
  • Royal College of Radiologists:  A clinical trial enabled researchers to optimise (and shorten) the dosage regimen for breast cancer patients.
  • Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: retrospective research helped to resolve uncertainty about the best delivery options for breech birth babies.
  • Faculty of Public Health:  Public health policy on smoking saves lives
  • Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine:  Evidence from practice and from clinical trials transformed HIV from a deadly infection into a chronic, manageable condition.
  • Royal College of Opthalmologists:  Genetic testing prevented unnecessary treatment and identifies patients who can benefit from screening for intraocular melanoma.
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists:  Evidence shows that cognitive behavioural therapy can be effective for anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.  It can be effective in combination with pharmacological treatments.
  • Faculty of Occupational Medicine: Acting on audit data improved working conditions for health professionals.
  • Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh:  Surgeon’s performance was improved by training in non-technical skills such as communication and listening.
  • Royal College of Surgeons of England:  Reducing deaths from bowel cancer by training surgeons in how to perform kehole surgery.
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society: Helping patients to remember to take their medicines.

The document also contains a short background to clinical research and suggestions for further reading.

About the Authors

Sense About Science is a charity that aims to help people to make sense of scientific and medical claims in public discussion.  They work in partnership with scientific bodies, research publishers, policy makers, the public and the media, to change public discussions about science and evidence.

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges exists to promote, facilitate and where appropriate co-ordinate the work of the Medical Royal Colleges and their Faculties for the benefit of patients and healthcare.

Please be advised that this list is indicative, not comprehensive!  We want to hear your examples;  tell us about them below.



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