Building EBM+ Workshop



On September 5th and 6th 2016, a number of our EBM+ consortium members and colleagues from far afield came together for our 2-day ‘Building EBM+ Workshop’, held at UCL on behalf of the STS department.

The Workshop agenda was as follows:

Monday 5th – After a brief introduction by Brendan Clarke, we began a series of informal presentations.

First to speak was Rani Lill Anjum, a philosopher and PI for the project, ‘Causation, Complexity and Evidence in Health Sciences’ (CauseHealth). Rani’s talk was entitled, ‘Ontology, Scientific Norms and the medically unexplained’. This presentation outlined a range of scientific norms and how CauseHealth engages health professionals with ontological discussions. After outlining the challenge of medically unexplained symptoms, Rani advocated for Causal Dispositionalism as new a framework. This stance approaches causation with an emphasis on complexity, context-sensitivity, singularism and holism. See Rani’s handouts one and two.

Following this, Timo Bolt spoke about the history of EBM, discussing a number of themes from his book, a Doctor’s Orders. Timo suggests this historical perspective – which outlines the longstanding influence of western medical traditions – does well to explain the current state of EBM today.


Thirdly and after a short coffee break, Rune Nyrup from Durham University gave a presentation entitled, “Generating and Pursuing Diagnostic Hypotheses: Some Problems for Probabilistic Approaches”. Rune applies this distinction between diagnostic hypotheses to resolve debates surrounding explanatory reasoning and analogical reasoning.


And last but not least was UCL STS’s very own PhD student, Erman Sozudogru. Erman’s talk advocated Epistemic Pluralism as an approach to help eradicate African Sleeping Sickness as a Neglected Tropical Disease.

Tuesday 6th – On the second day of the workshop we set up a seminar-type session and held some informal discussions. First on the agenda was how to engage with health practitioners. This discussion generated a number of interesting ideas such as producing an EBM+ medical methodology handbook for practitioners. This would aim to formalise existing EBM practices as well as the debate between expert judgement versus an EBM system.


Finally, we discussed ideas for future funding and collaboration (even managing to fill up two whiteboards – see below). One idea was to expand research into ‘the history of the science of EBM’, which would seek to adopt a more international comparative approach. We then ended with the promise to form a ‘Medical Methodology Network’ (working title) – an international collaborative effort to address all the issues raised during the workshop, as well as those we continue to uncover.


We hope you have enjoyed hearing about our ‘Building EBM+ Workshop’. If you have any further questions about the workshop or EBM+ more generally, please get in touch.

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