McMaster University

McMaster University

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Health Sciences

McMaster highlighted for role in evidence-based medicine

Published: January 31, 2014
David Sackett, Brian Haynes and Gord Guyatt, pioneers of evidence-based medicine
David Sackett, Brian Haynes and Gord Guyatt (from left) were featured in 2 important medical journals that praised McMaster, faculty as pioneers of evidence-based medicine

McMaster University and its pioneering faculty who coined and promoted evidence-based medicine internationally have been profiled simultaneously by two high-impact medical journals.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) have published a video and an editorial on the history of evidence-based medicine. The coverage features three McMaster professors who were instrumental in developing a medical approach based on scientific evidence and critical appraisal rather than following experts' thought.

David Sackett, founder of Canada's first Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster, along with Brian Haynes and Gord Guyatt, both professors of epidemiology and biostatistics and medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, are among seven interviewed and profiled.

Sackett is called the father of evidence-based medicine. Sackett's work in critical appraisal was part of the 1960s creation of "a new and different kind of medical school at McMaster. Students would learn from the problems of patients, and epidemiology and statistics would be taught together with the clinical disciplines."

Sackett points out the development of evidence-based medicine, coined by Guyatt, from critical appraisal by its combination of research evidence with clinical skills and patient values and preferences. Both Haynes, now chief of the Health Information Research Unit at McMaster, and Guyatt worked with Sackett and others in promoting the evidence-based approach to medicine and health care world-wide.

In the videos both the development of the approach as well as the pioneers' personal interest in the field are examined. Haynes reports that his life-long interest was sparked at medical school in 1969 when he learned there was no proof of Freudian theory. "I had an intense tingle in my body as I wondered how much of my medical education was based on unproven theories."

Holger Schünemann, current chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, pointed out that the profile illustrates the impact of the department on health world-wide. "The series showcases the culture of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University and the leadership of its faculty members that led to pioneering evidence-based medicine, a key contribution to humankind."

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