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Evidence-Based Pediatrics
  1. Jim Buttery, MBBS,
  2. Bob Phillips, MA, BM, BCh, MRCPCH
  1. John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford, UK

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    To evaluate the relative merits of these 2 recent compendia of evidence-based information (Evidence-Based Paediatrics and Child Health [EBPCH] and Evidence-Based Pediatrics [EBP], we selected common cases from some of our recent days “on call.” Through the long, wet days and chilly nights, children with a range of conditions presented to the assessment unit. We saw a young mother and her infant concerned about breast feeding, a barking toddler with croup, stressed parents with their post-ictal son, a worryingly breathless lad whose asthma was worsening, and a febrile, well looking, grumpy 9 month old infant with no obvious focus of infection. Many questions arose from each of these cases, but we limited ourselves to 1 per child. We were interested in determining how these books would address the benefits and difficulties of breast feeding, the diagnosis of croup, the prognosis of febrile convulsions, the evidence for the use of aminophylline in asthma, and the benefit of blood tests in determining the risk of invasive bacterial infection in the infant.

    Feldman W. Evidence-Based Pediatrics. Hamilton, Canada: BC Decker, 1999. Moyer V. Evidence-Based Paediatrics and Child Health. London, UK: BMJ Books, 2000.

    The goal of EBPCH is to provide a method for practising evidence-based child health care. The book aims to address common questions for practising paediatricians, and to review the processes of identifying and appraising the evidence involved. To assist with this goal, the first section of the book provides a series of educational, explanatory chapters addressing the tenets of critical appraisal and the principles of evidence-based medicine. These chapters are informative and well written, but may be used infrequently as a reference source by the busy paediatrician.

    EBP aims to provide physicians who provide primary care for children with “the best available evidence regarding the benefit/risk ratios underlying their interventions” for common clinical problems and well child care. It focuses on discrete clinical problems and avoids the theoretical introductory chapters to EBCH (saving 100 pages in the process!).

    Addressing our question about breast feeding, EBPCH tangentially refers to it during discussions of asthma and reflux, whereas EBP contains a brief review of the benefits of breast feeding in its first chapter. However, while relevant references are provided in EBP, there are no descriptions of the searches performed in selecting the evidence, of the level of evidence, or of the grade of recommendation that the authors provide.

    The diagnosis of croup is directly addressed in a chapter in EBPCH. Each of the clinical chapters in this textbook provides a detailed clinical scenario, a list of clinical questions relevant to the case, and a review of all the available, relevant evidence. A good description of the literature search, critical appraisal, and interpretation of the evidence is given in the text and we were able to find an answer to our question. EBP also has a chapter on croup, but only the literature search and critical appraisal of the therapeutic interventions are described whereas diagnostic issues are outlined in a traditional review format without referring to the appraisal of evidence.

    The use of aminophylline in acute asthma and prognostic questions commonly asked by the parents of children with a febrile convulsion are covered in both books. Again, EBP lacks a description of the search strategies and provides an appraisal of the evidence only for the asthma question whereas EBPCH describes the searches, the evidence, and the appraisal in substantial detail. EBPCH addresses the clinical scenario of a febrile infant with a good description of the search and critical appraisal of the evidence and in fact includes the specific question posed by us. EPB discusses the debate about the utility of blood tests but does not describe the literature search or the specific evidence.

    Both textbooks provide electronic support: EBP includes a simple electronic representation of the book in PDF format on an accompanying CD and EBPCH has a linked website “with updates” (, although at the time of this review no updates were available.

    We found that both books succeeded in addressing common questions, and provided references to the answers they gave. However, it was EBPCH that described the methods of systematically searching the literature, critically appraising and summarising the evidence, and offered some proof that it was more than a well written chapter in a traditional textbook.


    Methods/Quality of information: EBPCH: ★★★★☆EBP: ★☆☆☆☆

    Clinical usefulness: EBPCH: ★★★★☆EBP: ★★★☆☆

    Competing Interests: Bob Phillips is the author of the forthcoming book, “Evidence-based On Call.”

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    • Evidence-Based Paediatrics and Child Health can be purchased online at The contents and sample chapters can also be viewed on this site.

    • Evidence-Based Pediatrics can be purchased online at The contents and a sample chapter can also be viewed on this site.