Intended for healthcare professionals

Evidence based medicine

The history of evidence based medicine

Evidence based medicine is one of modern medicine’s greatest intellectual achievements. Just 20 years after the term began to be used, an early and informal history has emerged. In early 2014 The BMJ collaborated with JAMA to capture this history in a video project. The two journals invited six individuals who have played a prominent part in the development of evidence based medicine to participate.

They were:

  • Iain Chalmers, MBBS, DSc, coordinating editor, the James Lind Library and Testing Treatments Interactive
  • Kay Dickersin, MA, PhD, director, Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical Trials and director of the US Cochrane Center
  • Paul Glasziou, FRACGP, PhD, general practitioner, clinical researcher, and former director of Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine
  • Muir Gray, CBE, DSc, MD, FCLIP, director, Better Value Healthcare
  • Gordon Guyatt, BSc, MD, MSc, FRCPC, distinguished professor of medicine and of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics, McMaster University
  • Brian Haynes, MD, PhD, professor of clinical epidemiology and medicine and chief of the Health Information Research Unit, McMaster University
  • Drummond Rennie, MD, FRCP, former contributing deputy editor, JAMA, and adjunct professor of medicine, PR Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco
  • David L. Sackett, OC, FRSC, MD, MDHC, FRCP, director, Trout Research and Education Centre at Irish Lake
  • Richard Smith, MBChB, CBE, FMedSci, FRCPE, FRCGP, director, UnitedHealth Chronic Disease Initiative and former editor, The BMJ

This page not only includes these videos but also provides various links to key papers and multimedia about evidence based medicine. There are more videos on a similar page on the JAMA Network website. Find more BMJ articles on evidence based practice here.


Iain Chalmers and Muir Gray discuss why evidence based medicine is so important to them. They also describe how the UK Cochrane Centre became the Cochrane Collaboration, and why the organisation's ethos embodies the core tenets of EBM.

David Sackett describes how his early career choices led him to become one of the instigators of evidence based medicine.

David Sackett is known for giving up a subject when he becomes an "expert." Here he explains why he thinks evidence based medicine and expert based medicine are incompatible.

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