Reviews Book

Essential Evidence-Based Medicine

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7484.201 (Published 20 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:201
  1. Kristina Fister, Roger Robinson editorial registrar (kfister{at}bmj.com)
  1. BMJ

    Almost every textbook about evidence based medicine (EBM) starts with its definition, and that is usually when I roll my eyes and quickly turn the page. Of course, I always go back and read the piece, because I love EBM. But why is it that we still need to define it? It is now about 20 years old and by most relevant medical professionals acknowledged as the way to practise and advance in today's medicine. It is today's medicine.


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    Cambridge University Press, £24.99, pp 392, with CD ISBN 0 521 54027 5

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    Dan Mayer's book starts with statistics. His premise seems to be that there is no way around the fact that medical students and doctors need to learn more of it—because there is no critical appraisal of medical research without it. There are no shortcuts. You need to put your studying cap on and dive into the scary world of numbers, odds, and areas under curve, not to mention all sorts of measurements, biases, analyses… and what you finally start to grasp is never enough. Thenarrative but concrete tone in which this book is written will give you as good a chance as any to find your way in this strange environment.

    The accompanying CD Rom opens yet another whole new world. Once you figure out how to browse it, you stumble across carefully prepared exercises and workbooks. But when you discover the TemplateFor-MedicalStats, all doubts that buying this book was money well spent will vanish. Unfortunately, the CD contains no link to the BMJ Publishing Group's Clinical Evidence. There is one, but it is at the end of the book, the last entry in the bibliography (/www.clinicalevidence.com), which amounts to borderline-tolerable inappreciation of the BMJ's massive contribution to the daily practice of EBM.

    The author, Dan Mayer, is a professor of emergency medicine and the theme leader of the four-year evidence based healthcare course at Albany Medical College, New York. Mayer's writing possesses qualities of the best of teachers—patience and simplicity. The result is that we finally have a reasonably comprehensive, highly accurate, and easy to read textbook about EBM, suitable for all lifelong learners of medicine. Modestly titled “Essential,” it contains much more than the essentials. It contains—and conveys—true understanding.

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