AJRH: Adherence to maternal and child health guidelines in Nigeria (4) It takes an average of 17 years for research evidence to reach clinical practice

15 December, 2022

Evidence Based Medicine – New Approaches and Challenges - PMC (nih.gov)

The answer is 17 years, what is the question: understanding time lags in translational research - PMC (nih.gov)


It is frequently stated that it takes an average of 17 years for research evidence to reach clinical practice. Balas and Bohen, Grant and Wratschko all estimated a time lag of 17 years measuring different points of the process. Such convergence around an ‘average’ time lag of 17 years hides complexities that are relevant to policy and practice which would benefit from greater understanding.

'Evidence based medicine (EBM) is the conscientious, explicit, judicious and reasonable use of modern, best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. EBM integrates clinical experience and patient values with the best available research information. It is a movement which aims to increase the use of high quality clinical research in clinical decision making. EBM requires new skills of the clinician, including efficient literature-searching, and the application of formal rules of evidence in evaluating the clinical literature. The practice of evidence-based medicine is a process of lifelong, self-directed, problem-based learning in which caring for one’s own patients creates the need for clinically important information about diagnosis, prognosis, therapy and other clinical and health care issues. It is not “cookbook” with recipes, but its good application brings cost-effective and better health care. The key difference between evidence-based medicine and traditional medicine is not that EBM considers the evidence while the latter does not. Both take evidence into account; however, EBM demands better evidence than has traditionally been used. One of the greatest achievements of evidence-based medicine has been the development of systematic reviews and meta-analyses, methods by which researchers identify multiple studies on a topic, separate the best ones and then critically analyze them to come up with a summary of the best available evidence. The EBM-oriented clinicians of tomorrow have three tasks: a) to use evidence summaries in clinical practice; b) to help develop and update selected systematic reviews or evidence-based guidelines in their area of expertise; and c) to enrol patients in studies of treatment, diagnosis and prognosis on which medical practice is based.' [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3789163/ ]

HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT gmail.com