Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Reviews Personal views

I just wanted to be a doctor

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 10 August 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:359

Rapid Response:

Doctors don't need to do research but they need to understand it

First, a disclaimer. I’m a researcher not a doctor.

I teach a bit of evidence-based medicine to undergraduate medical
students and
one of the things I emphasise is that someone who ‘just wanted to be a
has absolutely no choice but to know something about, to use Dr Hunt’s
example, cluster allocation, along with the difference between relative
reduction and risk difference, the basics of systematic reviews, research
and much besides. The reason being that it would be hard to busy yourself

keeping up-to-date with published best practice without understanding what

these things are. A great deal of what is published is of dubious quality
doctors need the skills to sift the good from the bad.

I see no reason why doctors should have to do research (or audit) if
they want to
concentrate on clinical practice but they need to have an understanding of

research methods to be able to provide their patients with the best
care. Knowing when researchers should use cluster allocation, for
example, is a
skill doctors need even if they never get involved in research themselves.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 August 2006
Shaun Treweek
Research Fellow
University of Dundee, DD2 4BF