All that glisters is not gold

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 04 December 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1315
  1. Tom E Love
  1. Tayside Centre for General Practice, University of Dundee

    The “gold standard” is a pervasive metaphor in health research. Whether it is an argument about establishing a standard for quality of care or a debate about the relative merits of diagnostic investigations, the term is universally used to describe the best care, the best test, or the most certain medical knowledge. A Medline search on the phrase produces 7891 results.

    But is it a good metaphor? The gold standard refers to …

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