Exploring the diverse definitions of ‘evidence’: a scoping review
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  • Published on:
    Understanding each other
    • Thomas Kuehlein, Professor of General Practice Universitätskliikum Erlangen

    I read this scoping review with great interest. In linguistics there is a term for the phenomenon that a word can have the capacity to have multiple related meanings in different contexts. This term is polysemy. In the context of defining "Evidence-based medicine". If we want to understand each other, it proved successful to define the words we use .Sackett et al. in their seminal article about" EBM what it is and what it isn't" also defined what they mean by "evidence", namely: "By best available external clinical evidence we mean clinically relevant research,often from the basic sciences of medicine, but especially from patient centred clinical research into the accuracy and precision of diagnostic tests (including the clinical examination), the power of prognostic markers, and the efficacy and safety of therapeutic, rehabilitative, and preventive regimens."
    Doesn't this render it irrelevant for the context of EBM if others define differently in other contexts? A bigger problem arises when the term evidence is misunderstood or even misused within the context of EBM. This problem might be approached by better teaching of the meaning originally meant. Evidence to my knowledge (as a non-english native speaker) is a juridical term and thus different to proof or fact. Juridically only the sum of evidence is leading to a court decision. And, this decision can be wrong especially if new evidence arises.

    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.