EVIDENCE-BASED medicine, the collection and analysis of evidence that the care a physician provides benefits a patient, is becoming widely accepted even if it is not always practiced.
A number of converging factors contribute to this conclusion, according to those gathered at a meeting last month in Washington, DC, sponsored by a principal provider of practice guidelines, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR).
But the idea that physicians should be certain that the treatment they give is beneficial dates back to at least the early years of this century. Evidence-based medicine has been defined as a conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of the current best evidence to make a decision about the care of patients.
The more recent factors leading to this acceptance include increasing knowledge about what works and what does not; cost-control pressures that encourage efforts to ensure that therapies are efficacious; growing interest in