The social and cultural shaping of medical evidence: Case studies from pharmaceutical research and obstetric science

Most critiques of evidence-based medicine (EBM) focus on the scientific shortcomings of the technique. Social scientists are more likely to criticize EBM for it ideological biases, a criticism that makes sociological sense but is difficult to substantiate. Using data from our studies of (1) the influence of pharmaceutical companies on the conduct and reporting of clinical trials, and (2) obstetric science in the Netherlands (where nearly one-third of births occur at home) we show how the evidence of evidence-based medicine is shaped by forces both structural and cultural. The threats to objective evidence are many, and, if EBM is to be true to its own principles, it must take these threats into account.

Social Science and Medicine, 62(11), 2006: 2694-2706.

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