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Why we need evidence

Just like other medical and social care professionals, palliative care practitioners need evidence to make effective and correct diagnostic and prognostic decisions for their patients.  There is a long history of some doctors continuing with practices despite being contradicted by available evidence.

For example, beta-blockers have been administered to heart attack victims although studies show that their early administration does not save lives; patients with ear infections are more likely to be harmed by antibiotics than helped; no cough remedies have ever been proved better that placebo interventions.

To address these examples of 'doing something because that is the way it is done' mentality, that can in invasive surgical cases be uncomfortable, costly, and produce dangerous side-effects and complications, what is needed is research that clearly demonstrates what health care measures work and those that do not.  Also, it is important in an era of constrained donor funding, that clinical interventions are subjected to analysis of the cost and benefits derived from their use. 

Lastly, rigorous research evidence is needed to convince policy makers of the need and benefit of palliative care, and how it can best be introduced or scaled up, on a continent where the unmet need for it is huge.

Depending on the nature of the research question being asked, the type of evidence sought can differ, as can the tools and indicators  used to gather it.