Harnessing experience: Exploring the gap between evidence-based medicine and clinical practice

M. Cameron Hay, Thomas S. Weisner, Saskia Subramanian, Naihua Duan, Edmund J. Niedzinski, Richard L Kravitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Rationale, aims and objectives: There is mounting evidence of a gap between Evidence-based Medicine (EBM) and physician clinical practice, in part because EBM is averaged global evidence gathered from exogenous populations which may not be relevant to local circumstances. Local endogenous evidence, collected in particular and 'real world' patient populations may be more relevant, convincing and timely for clinical practice. Evidence Farming (EF) is a concept to provide such local evidence through the systematic collection of clinical experience to guide more effective practice. Methods: We report on the findings of a pilot study of 29 individual and three focus group (n = 10) interviews exploring physicians' evaluations how they use multiple sources of information in clinical decision making and their thoughts on EF. Results: Physicians recognize a gap in translating EBM to practice. Physicians reported that when making clinical decisions, they more often rely on clinical experience, the opinions of colleagues and EBM summarizing electronic clinical resources rather than refer directly to EBM literature. Confidence in making decisions based on clinical experience increases over time, yet few physicians reported having systems for tracking their clinical experience in designing treatment plans and patient outcomes. Most physicians saw EF as a promising way to track experience, thereby making scientific evidence more relevant to their own clinical practices. Conclusion: Clinical experience is relatively neglected by the EBM movement, but if that experience were systematically gathered through an approach such as EF, it would meet a need left unfulfilled by EBM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-713
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Clinical experience
  • Decision making
  • Evidence Farming
  • Evidence-based Medicine
  • Medical epistemology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy


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