Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Ethics of evidence based medicine in the primary care setting
  1. A Slowther,
  2. S Ford,
  3. T Schofield
  1. The Ethox Centre, University of Oxford, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Institute of Health Sciences, Old Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 7LF, UK;


Evidence based medicine has had an increasing impact on primary care over the last few years. In the UK it has influenced the development of guidelines and quality standards for clinical practice and the allocation of resources for drug treatments and other interventions. It has informed the thinking around patient involvement in decision making with the concept of evidence based patient choice. There are, however, concerns among primary care clinicians that evidence based medicine is not always relevant to primary care and that undue emphasis placed on it can lead to conflict with a clinician’s duty of care and respect for patient autonomy. In this paper we consider the impact of evidence based medicine on primary care, and the ethical implications of its increasing prominence for clinicians and managers in primary care.

  • ethics
  • evidence based medicine
  • primary care
  • autonomy
  • justice
  • shared decision making

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Anne Slowther holds an NHS R&D National Primary Care Researcher Development Award