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Scand J Soc Med. 1997 Sep; 25(3): 210-6.

Doctors' attitudes towards empirical data--a comparative study.

Lynöe N, Svensson T.

Department of Social Medicine, University of Umeå, Sweden.

In the assessment of the effects of medical technologies, the focus is most often on the quality of the empirical data. In order to shed light on the question whether medical researchers are really so empirically oriented we conducted the following study. 600 questionnaires were sent by mail to three groups, selected at random: 1) pre-clinical researchers; 2) clinical researchers who received research grants from The Swedish Medical Research Council; and 3) general practitioners. The questionnaire was built around three cases concerning the assessment of the effects of: a) H-2-receptor antagonists, b) coronary by-pass surgery and c) the homeopathic treatment of hay fever. The results indicate that there are rather small differences in how the three groups assessed the three technologies and larger differences within one and the same group concerning different cases. The tendency is that the more one considers that empirical data should be assessed independent of theoretical considerations, the higher are the demands which are placed on the quality and quantity of the empirical documentation, and vice-versa.

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