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Evidence-Based Medicine in Sherlock Holmes’ Footsteps

The famous sleuth provides some valuable clues to interpreting and using research evidence.

The famous sleuth provides some valuable clues to interpreting and using research evidence.

Along with audit, evidence-based medicine and critical appraisal were things that seemed daunting to doctors of my generation.

It is a standard part of education for today's medical students and junior doctors, but it was still with some trepidation that I started to read this book.

What I found was an easy to follow, almost idiot's guide to evidence-based medicine set out in a quirky manner where examples to illustrate a point are taken from Sherlock Holmes novels.

It takes you through the steps of FIRE, which are:

1. Formulate a question

2. Information Search

3. Review of information and critical appraisal

4. Employ the results

Be prepared to read it in front of a computer for steps one and two so you can access the search engines, clinical practice guidelines and data management systems it suggests.

It has a useful summary of these at the end of the book for quick reference.

There are also illustrations and quotations from the Sherlock Holmes novels throughout the book.

By the end of the book I had learned how to access the best evidence–based medicine quickly and effectively. As the introduction mentions, the famous quote ‘Elementary, my dear Watson' is a myth.

A meta-analysis of all Sherlock Holmes novels shows Sherlock never uttered these words! I did however find, with some detective work, some spelling errors on pages 70 and 71.

Find these out for yourself as I would recommend this book to medical students and doctors as an excellent introduction to evidence-based medicine.

Rating: 4.5/5

Dr Iain Henderson


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