I write extensively about the ways in which alternative therapies are justified, and the problems with much of the evidence used to promote them. I talk less here about the way all veterinary therapies should be evaluated and appraised, through the processes of evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM). This is a subject I write and speak about often elsewhere, but which hasn’t been a major focus of this blog, though it is the EBVM approach which I use to evaluate all the therapies I do write about.
Since I suspect many readers will be interested in how the veterinary profession can do the best possible job determining the risks and benefits of the therapies we offer, I thought I would highlight a few resources that illustrate the EBVM approach. Even though these do not directly address the issues of alternative medicine, they demonstrate the kind of critical, science-based evaluation that should be applied to all veterinary treatment. It is this kind of appraisal which often reveals how little substance there actually is behind the claims made for many CAM practices.
The Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Assocation (EBVMA) is the main organization promoting EBVM here in the U.S., and it is a great resource for learning more about EBVM and for veterinarians seeking to support an evidence-based approach.
The Centre for Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine (CEVM) at the University of Nottingham is a robust and vibrant center of research and teaching in EBVM. They have recently launched a couple of tools for veterinarians that illustrate the possiblities for the future of our profession.
The first is their new critically appraised topic database BestBETs for Vets “BET” stands for Best Evidence Topic. The BestBETs concept was first developed for doctors working in emergency medicine (http://www.bestbets.org/). In collaboration with our medical colleagues, the folks at CEVM have developed a freely accessible database of BestBETs for veterinarians. Though the number of topics is currently small, this is a dynamic project which will eventually be an important resource for veterinarians interested in making the best, most evidence-based decisions.
The team at CEVM has also launched VetSRev. VetSRev is a freely-accessible online database of citations for systematic reviews of relevance to veterinary medicine and science. As regular readers know, a systematic review is the most comprehensive and unbiased assessment of the total body of clinical research on any given subject. The number of systematic reviews in veterinary medicine has exploded in recent years, which makes it much easier for veterinarians to quickly and reliably find the “bottom line” for many diagnostic tests and treatments.