Humility, uncertainty and collaboration may not have
the same ring to it as liberty, equality and fraternity, but it is a
triad worth pondering. It comes from the title of a recent editorial by
Andy Oxman in JAMA.
His argument is that we often need to be humble about our ability to
resolve health problems; that we have to acknowledge uncertainty about
the effects of interventions, particularly when they are small, and to
promote evaluations which can resolve such uncertainties; and that we
should collaborate across the board - on identifying gaps which need to
be studied, on evaluations, on synthesizing the results of outcome
research, and on communicating results to decision-making processes.
Oxman was addressing healthcare; and yet all these points are equally
applicable to social care. In the area of social policy we have greater
opportunities for collaboration than ever, through technological
platforms and through bodies like the Campbell Collaboration; we have an
increasing awareness of gaps in our knowledge about the effects of
social interventions; and we have good reason to be humble about these
gaps. In a nutshell: the case for an evidence-based approach in social
policy is as compelling as ever, and perhaps more so.
Eamonn Noonan, CEO