Evidence-Based Medicine: spreading the word

In the fifth blog of our new series, Understanding Evidence, Lynda Ware gives us a flavour of how she’s taking Cochrane and evidence-based medicine to Community Halls. Join in the conversation on Twitter @CochraneUK #understandingevidence.

Next Thursday I shall be facing 150 indomitable ladies of the Oxfordshire Federation of Womens Institutes. I shall be auditioning, alongside seven others, for an entry in their current year book of approved speakers. Britain’s Got Talent in Stonesfield!

Why am I doing this? Why indeed…

WI Lad

1941: members of Meifod WI busy “jamming” under the Ministry of Food fruit preserving scheme

A year ago, Martin Burton, Director of Cochrane UK, asked me to put together a talk on Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) to take to non-medical audiences. As a GP principal with over thirty years’ experience, explaining medical concepts in a clear, simple and understandable way should be something I could do standing on my head – and of course I can (well, not the headstand bit…)


Lynda delegated this task!

It has, in fact, been great fun and an enormous pleasure putting the session together and then going out to various groups in the local community.

Cuddesdon village hall

Cuddesdon village hall, where Lynda gave her first talk

My talk starts with a definition Evidence-Based Medicine and I then place EBM in an historical context with a rapid overview of medical research from King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel, through Avicenna to James Lind and finally Archie Cochrane.


Archie Cochrane, the father of evidence-based medicine

The forest plot of the iconic 1990 systematic review on the effects of corticosteroids prescribed to women in premature labour, which is used as part of the Cochrane logo, gives me an opportunity to introduce Cochrane and to present the first of several examples as to how EBM impacts on medical practice today and on the lives of all of us.


No talk on EBM would be complete without some enticing newspaper headlines; and there are plenty to choose from!


I end with a list of reliable websites that give measured evidence-based information on health-related issues.

So far, I have talked to WI groups, Oxford Rotary and in various village halls. I will soon meet with Oxford University of the Third Age. At the beginning of November Cochrane has been invited to a local secondary school to give a presentation to a group of students from years 11,12 and 13. The message will be the same but the way it is delivered will need to be relevant and accessible to a younger audience. We are really hoping that this proves successful and we can make contact with other schools in the county.

All in all, it has been an interesting and worthwhile project with lovely, appreciative audiences and positive feedback. The content of my talk continues to evolve – but, of course, regular updates are what EBM is all about!

Wish me luck on Thursday!

Lynda Ware has nothing to disclose.

Lynda Ware

About Lynda Ware

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Lynda is a Senior Fellow in General Practice with Cochrane UK. Her background is in primary care and she was a GP partner in rural Oxfordshire for over thirty years with particular clinical interests in psychiatry and women's health. Since joining Cochrane UK in 2014, she has visited many village halls and community centres around Oxford talking to non-medical audiences about Evidence-Based Medicine and its relevance to everyday life. With a colleague, Lynda now visits schools to meet students from Years 10 to 13 to teach about EBM and to encourage critical thinking, particularly around health care claims made in the media. She blogs about Cochrane Reviews for the Evidently Cochrane website.

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