Introduction

Each day patients ask pharmacists for advice. Their questions might be about new (or old) therapies and/or interventions, disease prognosis, or risk factors for a disease. A patient might ask: ‘does therapy A work better than therapy B?’, or ‘will therapy A slow the progression of my chronic disease?’, or ‘how accurate is the screening test I am about to purchase?’

Pharmacists routinely answer questions that inform patient care and potentially affect patients’ quality of life.

So how do we best answer clinical questions that arise in our day-to-day practice? How do we ensure that the answers we give our patients are appropriate? Under PSA’s Code of Ethics for Pharmacists, pharmacists must only purchase, supply or promote any medicine, complementary medicine, herbal remedy or other healthcare product where there is credible evidence of efficacy and the benefit of use outweighs the risk.1 But what exactly is evidence-based medicine (EBM)?

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this CPD activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Define evidence-based medicine (EBM)
  • Explain the different study designs and the level of evidence they generate
  • Explain the significance of probability (p) values, confidence intervals (CI), relative risk (RR), od

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