Evidence and the End of Medicine
Jensen, Uffe Juul
Medicine, health care, and philosophy 2011 Aug; 14(3): 273-80
Fifty years ago, in 1961, Feinstein published his first path-breaking articles leading to his seminal work Clinical Judgement and to the establishment of clinical epidemiology. Feinstein had an Aristotelian approach to scientific method: methods must be adapted to the material examined. Feinstein died 10 years ago and few years before his death he concluded that efforts to promote a person-oriented medicine had failed. He criticised medicine for not having recognized that only persons can suitably observe, evaluate and rate their own health status. Feinstein's position was-as in Clinical Judgement-methodological. He didn't espouse ethical principles. He pointed to methodological deficiencies in clinical epidemiology and evidence-based medicine. In this article we'll provide a framework for understanding and justifying Feinstein's call for a person-oriented medicine which recognizes patients as co-actors in clinical reasoning. It's argued that craftsmanship and practical wisdom are integrated in clinical judgement and reasoning and that clinical reasoning is not only about means to achieve the end, health. We do also reason and deliberate about ends. The 'defining end' of medicine (health) has continuously been negotiated and so been the object of deliberation. For centuries among professionals, in recent years among professionals and patients. These negotiations and deliberations lead to ongoing specifications of health as a 'guiding end', i.e. an end guiding clinical reasoning about what to do in particular situations. Feinstein's self-critical account to clinical epidemiology at the end of his professional career reflects the fact that patients during the last 30-40 years (i.e. in the period after the publication of Clinical Judgement) widely have been recognized as persons with rights to autonomy. Feinstein's lesson is, however, that espousing and recognizing ethical ideals is not enough. A change of clinical practice and its methods is necessary. His critique also implies that clinical epidemiology and evidence-based medicine as practiced haven't provided such a turn.
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Andersen, Lone K.; Jensen, Henrik K.; Juul, Svend; Faergeman, Ole (1997-03-10)BACKGROUND: Molecular biology has improved the diagnostic abilities of physicians and enabled them to identify apparently healthy persons with a high risk of genetic disease. OBJECTIVE: To examine the attitudes toward detection ...