SPPH 581T 001 (Seminar) Ethics of Evidence – Based Medicine and Public Health – Term 1

Instructor: Daniel Steel
Term: 1
Meets: Monday 9:00 am-12:00 pm, School of Population and Public Health B138

Course Description

What does it (or should it) mean for a health intervention to be “evidence-based”? How does that question relate to value judgments and to the potential for bias stemming from industry funding of research? And do the answers to these questions vary depending on whether the health intervention is targeted at an individual patient or a population? If these questions sound interesting to you, please consider registering for the following course.

Since the early 1990s, Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) has emerged as a highly influential movement that has impacted almost all health related disciplines, including population and public health. At the core of EBM is a set of beliefs about what constitutes good evidence for the effectiveness of health interventions. Consequently, it is an excellent example of what some philosophers refer to as a coupled ethical-epistemic issue. That is, what makes something good evidence for the effectiveness of a health intervention is not only a scientific or statistical question, but is also linked to the deeply value-laden aim of improving health in both clinical and population settings. This course, then, focuses on coupled ethical-epistemic issues arising from EBM, and their implications for population and public health. Specific topics to be addressed include: value aspects of evidence, rationales and critiques of evidence hierarchies used in EBM, the role of evidence-based approaches in public health, and the impact of pharmaceutical industry funding on evidence-based approaches