evidence-based medicine

Last edited 02/2021 and last reviewed 02/2023

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is a clinical discipline that emerged in the 1990's. It is a discipline that formalises the long-practised principle of basing clinical practice on scientific evidence. "The practice of EBM is a process of life-long, problem-based learning in which caring for our own patients creates the need for evidence about diagnosis, prognosis, therapy, and other clinical and health issues."

Medicine has often been described as combining features of art and science. EBM is recognition that elements of clinical practice can, like a science, be quantified. In areas where unbiased scientific evidence is available then clinical practice should take into consideration the appropriate evidence.

EBM is not however a panacea to the problems of all medical decision making. Clinical medicine is a discipline that involves individuals and therefore the art of medicine must take into account particular individual attributes in the context of evidence that is available.

In the writing of this database, the authors attempt to base information, where available, on the appropriate evidence. Relevant evidence, where available, is referenced within the particular database sections. The aim of this section of the system is as a repository for some of the references to evidence that are used within this system. This section is not an attempt to write an EBM database.

Note that, as in any other textbook, there are vast areas of medicine that must be included where the evidence has not yet been formalised or does not exist. Information concerning these areas still must be conveyed and it is here where factors such as peer and specialist review of material play a role in construction of information.


  • Sacket DL, Haynes RB (1995). On the need for evidence based medicine. EBM, 1 (1), 5-6.