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Belief-based and evidence-based practice

From Dr R. J. Woodward, MRPharmS


I write with regard to the Leading article “Hoodwinking patients” (PJ, 13 April 2013, p401) and the practice dilemma piece on placebos (ibid, p415). For several years I have advocated the division of medical practice into two overall legal categories: evidence-based and belief-based.

This separation would overcome the dilemma of health professionals when prescribing or dispensing homoeopathic or unlicensed items. All products and practices would fall into one of these classifications which could be regulated appropriately using experts in the two fields. Ideally, there would be no overlap of experts or bureaucrats.

The current internecine war is of no help to patients. The criteria used for belief-based practices would be devised by persons well versed in them and without interference or comparison with evidence-based ones. Most complementary practices, including homoeopathy, have little or no connection with science and should not be judged by persons hostile to the alternative approaches to healthcare. Modern medicine has not brought populations total health and consumers suspect the powerful drug industry of deception. Maybe their trust in complementary practices is greater than the anti fraternity would care to admit.

Those trying to rubbish homoeopathy talk arrogantly of one-sided deception but they should consider the parable of the beam and mote.


Robert Woodward

Liss, Hampshire

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11120750

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