The postmodernist war on evidence-based practice

Authors: Porter, S. and O'Halloran, P.

Journal: International Journal of Nursing Studies

Volume: 46

Issue: 5

Pages: 740-748

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.11.002

This data was imported from PubMed:

Authors: Porter, S. and O'Halloran, P.

Journal: Int J Nurs Stud

Volume: 46

Issue: 5

Pages: 740-748

eISSN: 1873-491X

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.11.002

In this paper, we examine the war of words between those who contend that health care practice, including nursing, should primarily be informed by research (the evidence-based practice movement), and those who argue that there should be no restrictions on the sources of knowledge used by practitioners (the postmodernists). We review the postmodernist interventions of Dave Holmes and his colleagues, observing that the postmodernist style to which they adhere, which includes the use of continental philosophy, metaphors, and acerbic delivery, tends to obscure their substantive arguments. The heated nature of some responses to them has tended to have the same effect. However, the substantive arguments are important. Five main postmodernist charges are identified and discussed. The first argument, that the notion of 'best evidence' implies a hierarchical and exclusivist approach to knowledge, is persuasive. However, the contention that this hierarchy is maintained by the combined pressures of capitalism and vested interests within academia and the health services, is less well founded. Nevertheless, postmodernist contentions that the hierarchy embraced by the evidence-based practice movement damages health care because it excludes other forms of evidence that are needed to understand the complexity of care, it marginalizes important aspects of clinical knowledge, and it fails to take account of individuals or their experience, are all seen to be of some merit. However, we do not share the postmodernist conclusion that this adds up to a fascist order. Instead, we characterize evidence-based practice as a necessary but not sufficient component of health care knowledge.

This data was imported from Scopus:

Authors: Porter, S. and O'Halloran, P.

Journal: International Journal of Nursing Studies

Volume: 46

Issue: 5

Pages: 740-748

ISSN: 0020-7489

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.11.002

In this paper, we examine the war of words between those who contend that health care practice, including nursing, should primarily be informed by research (the evidence-based practice movement), and those who argue that there should be no restrictions on the sources of knowledge used by practitioners (the postmodernists). We review the postmodernist interventions of Dave Holmes and his colleagues, observing that the postmodernist style to which they adhere, which includes the use of continental philosophy, metaphors, and acerbic delivery, tends to obscure their substantive arguments. The heated nature of some responses to them has tended to have the same effect. However, the substantive arguments are important. Five main postmodernist charges are identified and discussed. The first argument, that the notion of 'best evidence' implies a hierarchical and exclusivist approach to knowledge, is persuasive. However, the contention that this hierarchy is maintained by the combined pressures of capitalism and vested interests within academia and the health services, is less well founded. Nevertheless, postmodernist contentions that the hierarchy embraced by the evidence-based practice movement damages health care because it excludes other forms of evidence that are needed to understand the complexity of care, it marginalizes important aspects of clinical knowledge, and it fails to take account of individuals or their experience, are all seen to be of some merit. However, we do not share the postmodernist conclusion that this adds up to a fascist order. Instead, we characterize evidence-based practice as a necessary but not sufficient component of health care knowledge. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

This data was imported from Europe PubMed Central:

Authors: Porter, S. and O'Halloran, P.

Journal: International journal of nursing studies

Volume: 46

Issue: 5

Pages: 740-748

eISSN: 1873-491X

ISSN: 0020-7489

In this paper, we examine the war of words between those who contend that health care practice, including nursing, should primarily be informed by research (the evidence-based practice movement), and those who argue that there should be no restrictions on the sources of knowledge used by practitioners (the postmodernists). We review the postmodernist interventions of Dave Holmes and his colleagues, observing that the postmodernist style to which they adhere, which includes the use of continental philosophy, metaphors, and acerbic delivery, tends to obscure their substantive arguments. The heated nature of some responses to them has tended to have the same effect. However, the substantive arguments are important. Five main postmodernist charges are identified and discussed. The first argument, that the notion of 'best evidence' implies a hierarchical and exclusivist approach to knowledge, is persuasive. However, the contention that this hierarchy is maintained by the combined pressures of capitalism and vested interests within academia and the health services, is less well founded. Nevertheless, postmodernist contentions that the hierarchy embraced by the evidence-based practice movement damages health care because it excludes other forms of evidence that are needed to understand the complexity of care, it marginalizes important aspects of clinical knowledge, and it fails to take account of individuals or their experience, are all seen to be of some merit. However, we do not share the postmodernist conclusion that this adds up to a fascist order. Instead, we characterize evidence-based practice as a necessary but not sufficient component of health care knowledge.

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