The Politics of Evidence-Based Medicine

8 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2007

See all articles by Marc A. Rodwin

Marc A. Rodwin

Suffolk University Law School; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics


In this essay I argue that rational evaluation of evidence plays an important role in medicine, but that it is not an alternative to medical politics. Rather, evidence is a tool for institutional control and policy argument. Today evidence-based medicine is used to oversee individual physicians and the practice of medicine. It thus helps to alter the balance of power among doctors, payers, and patients. Changing medical practice requires the development of political, legal, and medical institutions that oversee medical care. Promoting medical practice based on evidence will therefore necessitate more, not less politics. The essay explores the political significance of the evidence-based medicine movement, the politics of expertise and evidence in policy debates, and the role of courts, and the relation between evidence and accountability.

Suggested Citation

Rodwin, Marc A., The Politics of Evidence-Based Medicine. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Vol. 26, p. 439, 2001. Available at SSRN:

Marc A. Rodwin (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States
617-573-8354 (Phone)
617-305-3087 (Fax)


Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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