Why evidence-based practice now?: a polemic1

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Evidence-based practice (EBP) first appeared on the healthcare horizon just over a decade ago. In 2003 its presence has intensified and extended beyond its initial relation to medicine embracing as it does now, nursing and the allied health disciplines. In this paper, I contend that its appearance and subsequent growth and development are the effects of potent ‘regimes of truth’, four of which bear the names: positivism, empiricism, pragmatism and economic rationalism. My aim is to show how EBP generates the controversy it does because its nature and methods are inextricably interwoven with the way it has become politicised and professionalised. This exegesis is an attempt to outline how the combined effects of the four forms of rationality mentioned above allow for both the methods and objectives of EBP to be constructed as they are, while at the same moment producing the particular effects of knowledge and power in terms of who sells and who buys the idea of EBP in the culture of contemporary healthcare.

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