What is Evidence Based advice?
There has been much controversy recently around health advice given by those who do not have science or medical qualifications. A good example of this is the suggestion that hydroxychloroquine will help to prevent the occurrence of COVID-19. However, the US Food and Drug Administration cautions against people taking it and has reported that hydroxychloroquine can cause serious heart rhythm problems and other safety issues, including blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failure.
There is a lot of misinformation circulating on the internet and in the media by those who are not qualified to provide health advice so how do you know what to believe? What does evidence-based mean and how reliable is it?
Evidence-based information in health care relies on the outcome of clinical trials and research studies that aim to determine if a product, treatment, or device is safe for use or consumption by humans. The results which can be positive, negative, or inconclusive, provide reliable data for those in health care such as your doctor or dietitian. Clinical trials and studies follow strict scientific standards and guidelines so can be relied upon for accurate results.
Some high profile public figures without scientific qualifications may not assess or know how to interpret scientific evidence when making statements or providing advice but may instead use personal opinions or anecdotal evidence. This can result in the circulation of misinformation and confusion among the general public. Some of the misinformation we hear about regarding nutrition involve gluten, dairy products and more recently the keto diet, Atkins diet and turmeric. So when deciding whether to follow the advice on your health, ask the following four questions;
- What qualifications does this person hold?
- Are they qualified to be giving health advice?
- What evidence are they basing their statements on?
- How recent is this evidence?
If the evidence is more than 10 years old then it is likely to be outdated.
Like many areas of science, advances in technology and research means that new evidence in nutrition is evolving all the time. Dietitians Australia, the regulating body for Accredited Practising Dietitians in Australia, has joined forces with Dietitians of Canada and the British Dietetic Association to make Practice-based Evidence available to their members. This helps Australian dietitians to be at the forefront of the body of evidence and providing clinical advice that meets best practice.
In a clinical setting the practice of evidence-based health advice involves using the best available scientific evidence, together with clinical experience, to conscientiously work with patients’ values and preferences to help assess and manage their problems related to physical, mental, and dietary health.
When it comes to your personal health, evidence-based advice is the undisputed cornerstone of clinical practice which means you are the one who benefits the most.
Written by Lisa Stegena, Nutritionist
Nutrition Force is a Western Australian based company of Nutritionists and Accredited Practising Dietitians that offer weight loss programs, private dietetic consultations, children’s nutrition & dietetics, school nutrition and Corporate Wellness programs. If you would like more information on our Perth Dietitians and the other services we offer call us today on (08) 9385 7755.