How can we make the best use of scientific evidence?



How can we make the best use of scientific evidence?

Many different factors influence whether we choose to take a medicine or not.

We believe that robust and reliable scientific evidence should be at the heart of decisions about medicines because it is open to check and challenge.

Our new report explores how the generation, trustworthiness, and communication of scientific evidence can be improved to strengthen its role in decisions made by patients and everyone involved in their care.

So, what are the challenges?

We found that only about one-third of the public trust medical evidence, with about two-thirds prioritising the advice of friends and family, and that about three in five British adults and four in five doctors believe that clinical trials funded by the pharmaceutical industry are often biased to produce a positive outcome.

The internet presents a double-edged sword – there is more information available than ever before. But healthcare professionals can struggle to cope with the avalanche of data and the public can’t always filter reliable information.

We heard from patients that the one piece of information they are guaranteed to receive – the patient information leaflet inside every packet of medicine – is ‘impenetrable’ and ‘unreadable’.

To enable everyone to make the best decisions about medicines, we’re calling for improvements to:

  • The generation of scientific evidence to ensure it is robust, reliable and relevant to patients.
  • The trustworthiness of scientific evidence so that information is disclosed in an accessible, assessable, and usable manner.
  • The communication of evidence to ensure it is presented in a clear, accurate and actionable way.

We’ve also developed a set of questions to help people get the most out of discussions with their doctors. 

Ultimately, the decision to use a medicine lies with the patient or carer. Our goal is to strengthen the central role of scientific evidence in that decision-making process to help patients, carers and healthcare professionals make informed decisions about treatment.

To watch the full series of videos and to download the report, visit the Academy of Medical Sciences' report hub: