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Keywords:

  • culture;
  • disease taxonomy;
  • evidence-based medicine;
  • medical epistemology;
  • medical ontology

Abstract

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) has been rapidly and widely adopted because it claims to provide a method for determining the safety and efficacy of medical therapies and public health interventions more generally. However, as others have noted, EBM may be riven through with cultural bias, both in the generation of evidence and in its translation. We suggest that technological and scientific advances in medicine accentuate and entrench these cultural biases, to the extent that they may invalidate the evidence we have about disease and its treatment. This creates a significant ethical, epistemological and ontological challenge for medicine.